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Almayer's Folly 

Outcast of the Islands 

The Nigger of the "Narcissus" 

Tales of Unrest 

Lord Jim 

Youth : A Narrative 



The Mirror of the Sea 
The Secret Agent 
A Set of Six 




"/ would take liberty from any hand as a hunsry 
man would snatch a piece of bread." . . . 

MISS Haldin 






Ft'rsi Published in igii 









TO begin with I wish to disclaim the possession of 
those high gifts of imagination and expression 
which would have enabled my pen to create for the 
reader the personality of the man who called himself, 
after the Russian custom, Cyril son of Isidor — Kirylo 
Sidorovitch — Razumov. 

If I have ever had these gifts in any sort of living 
form they have been smothered out of existence a long 
time ago under a wilderness of words. Words, as is well 
known, are the great foes of reality. I have been for 
many years a teacher of languages. It is an occupation 
which at length becomes fatal to whatever share of 
imagination, observation, and insight an ordinary person 
may be heir to. To a teacher of languages there comes 
a time when the world is but a place of many words and 
man appears a mere talking animal not much more 
wonderful than a parrot. 

This being so, I could not have observed Mr. Razumov 
or guessed at his reality by the force of insight, much less 
have imagined him as he was. Even to invent the mere 
bald facts of his life would have been utterly beyond my 
powers. But I think that without this declaration the 
readers of these pages will be able to detect in the story 
the marks of documentary evidence. And that is per- 


fectly correct. It is based on a document; all I have 
brought to it is my knowledge of the Russian language, 
which is sufificient for what is attempted here. The 
document, of course, is something in the nature of a 
journal, a diary, yet not exactly that in its actual form. 
For instance, most of it was not written up from day to 
day, though all the entries are dated. Some of these 
entries cover months of time and extend over dozens of 
pages. All the earlier part is a retrospect, in a narrative 
form, relating to an event which took place about a year 

I must mention that I have lived for a long time in 
Geneva. A whole quarter of that town, on account of 
many Russians residing there, is called La Petite Russie 
— Little Russia. I had a rather extensive connexion in 
Little Russia at that time. Yet I confess that I have no 
comprehension of the Russian character. The illogicality 
of their attitude, the arbitrariness of their conclusions, the 
frequency of the exceptional, should present no difficulty 
to a student of many grammars; but there must be some- 
thing else in the way, some special human trait — one of 
those subtle differences that are beyond the ken of mere 
professors. What must remain striking to a teacher of 
languages is^ the Russians' extraordinary love of words. 
They gather them up ; they cherish them, but they don't 
hoard them in their breasts ; on the contrary, they are 
always ready to pour them out by the hour or by the 
night with an enthusiasm, a sweeping abundance, with 
such an aptness of application sometimes that, as in the 
case of very accomplished parrots, one can't defend oneself 
from the suspicion that they really understand what they 
say. \ There is a generosity in their ardour of speech 
"which removes it as far as possible from common 
loquacity ; and it is ever too disconnected to be classed 
as eloquence. . . . But I must apologize for this digression. 


It would be idle to inquire why Mr. Razumov has 
left this record behind him. It is inconceivable that he 
should have wished any human eye to see it. A mysteri- 
ous impulse of human nature comes into play here. Put- 
ting aside Samuel Pepys, who has forced in this way the 
door of immortality, innumerable people, criminals, saints, 
philosophers, young girls, statesmen, and simple imbeciles, 
have kept self-revealing records from vanity no doubt, 
but also from other more inscrutable motives. There 
must be a wonderful soothing power in mere words since 
so many men have used them for self-communion. Being 
myself a quiet individual I take it that what all men are 
really after is some form or perhaps only some formula 
of peace. Certainly they are crying loud enough for it 
at the present day. What sort of peace Kirylo Sidoro- 
vitch Razumov expected to find in the writing up of his 
record it passeth my understanding to guess. V 

The fact remains that he has written it. 

Mr. Razumov was a tall, well-proportioned young 
man, quite unusually dark for a Russian from the 
Central Provinces. His good looks would have been 
unquestionable if it had not been for a peculiar lack of 
-fineness in the features. It was as if a face modelled 
vigorously in wax (with some approach even to a 
classical correctness of type) had been held close to a 
fire till all sharpness of line had been lost in the 
softening of the material. But even thus he was 
sufficiently good-looking. His manner, too, was good. 
In discussion he was easily swayed by argument and 
authority. With his younger compatriots he took the 
attitude of an inscrutable listener, a listener of the kind 
that hears you out intelligently and then — just changes 
the subject. 

This sort of trick, which may arise either from 
intellectual insufficiency or from an imperfect trust in 


one's own convictions, procured for Mr. Razumov a 
reputation of profundity. Amongst a lot of exuberant 
talkers, in the habit of exhausting themselves daily by 
ardent discussion, a comparatively taciturn personality 
is naturally credited with reserve power. By his 
comrades at the St. Petersburg University, Kirylo 
Sidorovitch Razumov, third year's student in philosophy, 
was looked upon as a strong nature — an altogether 
trustworthy man. This, in a country where an opinion 
may be' a legal crime visited by death or sometimes by 
a fate worse than mere death, meant that he was worthy 
of being trusted with forbidden opinions. He was liked 
also for his amiability and for his quiet readiness to 
oblige his comrades even at the cost of personal 

Mr. Razumov was supposed to be the son of an 
Archpriest and to be protected by a distinguished 
nobleman — perhaps of his own distant province. But 
his outward appearance accorded badly with such 
humble origin. Such a descent was not credible. It 
was, indeed, suggested that Mr. Razumov was the son 
of an Archpriest's pretty daughter — which, of course, 
would put a different complexion on the matter. This 
theory also rendered intelligible the protection of the 
distinguished nobleman. All this, however, had never 
been investigated maliciously or otherwise. No one 
knew or cared who the nobleman in question was. 
Razumov received a modest but very sufficient allowance 
from the hands of an obscure attorney, who seemed to 
act as his guardian in some measure. Now and then 
he appeared at some professor's informal reception. 
Apart from that Razumov was not known to have any 
social relations in the town. He attended the obligatory 
lectures regularly and was considered by the authorities 
as a very promising student. He worked at home in 


the manner of a man who means to get on, but did not 
shut himself up severely for that purpose. He was 
always accessible, and there was nothing secret or 
reserved in his life. 


The origin of Mr. Razumov's record is connected 
with an event characteristic of modern Russia in the 
actual fact : the assassination of a prominent statesman 
— and still more characteristic of the moral corruption 
of an oppressed society where the noblest aspirations 
of humanity, the desire of freedom, an ardent patriotism, 
the love of justice, the sense of pity, and even the fidelity , 
of simple minds are prostituted to the lusts of hate and | 
fear, the inseparable companions of an uneasy despotism. ; 

The fact alluded to above is the successful attempt 
on the life of Mr. de P , the President of the notori- 
ous Repressive Commission of some years ago, the 
Minister of State invested with extraordinary powers. 
The newspapers made noise enough about that fanatical, 
narrow-chested figure in gold-laced uniform, with a face 
of crumpled parchment, insipid, bespectacled eyes, and 
the cross of the Order of St. Procopius hung under the 
skinny throat. For a time, it may be remembered, not 
a month passed without his portrait appearing in some 
one of the illustrated papers of Europe. He served the 
monarchy by imprisoning, exiling, or sending to the 
gallows men and women, young and old, with an 
equable, unwearied industry. In his mystic acceptance 
of the principle of autocracy he was bent on extirpating 
from the land every vestige of anything that resembled 
freedom in public institutions; and in his ruthless per- 
secution of the rising generation he seemed to aim at 
the destruction of the very hope of liberty itself. 


It is said that this execrated personahty had not 
enough imagination to be aware of the hate he inspired. 
It is hardly credible ; but it is a fact that he took very 
few precautions for his safety. In the preamble of a 
certain famous State paper he had declared once that 
"the thought of liberty has never existed in the Act of 
the Creator. From the multitude of men's counsel 
nothing could come but revolt and disorder; and revolt 
and disorder in a world created for obedience and 
stability is sin. It was not Reason but Authority which 
expressed the Divine Intention. God was the Autocrat 
of the Universe. ..." It may be that the man who 
made this declaration believed that heaven itself was 
bound to protect him in his remorseless defence of 
Autocracy on this earth. 

No doubt the vigilance of the police saved him many 
times ; but, as a matter of fact, when his appointed fate 
overtook him, the competent authorities could not have 
given him any warning. They had no knowledge of any 
conspiracy against the Minister's life, had no hint of any 
plot through their usual channels of information, had 
seen no signs, were aware of no suspicious movements or 
dangerous persons. 

Mr. de P was being driven towards the railway 

station in a two-horse uncovered sleigh with footman and 
coachman on the box. Snow had been falling all night, 
making the roadway, uncleared as yet at this early hour, 
very heavy for the horses. It was still falling thickly. 
But the sleigh must have been observed and marked 
down. As it drew over to the left before taking a turn, 
the footman noticed a peasant walking slowly on the 
edge of the pavement with his hands in the pockets of 
his sheepskin coat and his shoulders hunched up to his 
ears under the falling snow. On being overtaken this 
peasant suddenly faced about and swung his arm. In 


an instant there was a terrible shock, a detonation 
muffled in the multitude of snowflakes; both horses lay 
dead and mangled on the ground and the coachman, 
with a shrill cry, had fallen off the box mortally 
wounded. The footman (who survived) had no time 
to see the face of the man in the sheepskin coat. After 
throwing the bomb this last got away, but it is supposed 
that, seeing a lot of people surging up on all sides of 
him in the falling snow, and all running towards the 
scene of the explosion, he thought it safer to turn back 
with them. 

In an incredibly short time an excited crowd 
assembled round the sledge. The Minister-President, 
getting out unhurt into the deep snow, stood near the 
groaning coachman and addressed the people repeatedly 
in his weak, colourless voice : " I beg of you to keep 
oiT. For the love of God, I beg of you good people to 
keep off." 

It was then that a tall young man who had remained 
standing perfectly still within a carriage gateway, two 
houses lower down, stepped out into the street and 
walking up rapidly flung another bomb over the heads of 
the crowd. It actually struck the Minister-President on 
the shoulder as he stooped over his dying servant, then 
falling between his feet exploded with a terrific con- 
centrated violence, striking him dead to the ground, 
finishing the wounded man and practically annihilating 
the empty sledge in the twinkling of an eye. With a 
yell of horror the crowd broke up and fled in all direc- 
tions, except for those who fell dead or dying where they 
stood nearest to the Minister-President, and one or two 
others who did not fall till they had run a little way. 

The first explosion had brought together a crowd 
as if by enchantment, the second made as swiftly a 
solitude in the street for hundreds of yards in each 


direction. Through the falling snow people looked from 
afar at the small heap of dead bodies lying upon each 
other near the carcases of the two horses. Nobody 
dared to approach till some Cossacks of a street-patrol 
galloped up and, dismounting, began to turn over the 
dead. Amongst the innocent victims of the second 
explosion laid out on the pavement there was a body 
dressed in a peasant's sheepskin coat ; but the face was 
unrecognisable, there was absolutely nothing found in the 
pockets of its poor clothing, and it was the only one 
whose identity was never established. 

That day Mr. Razumov got up at his usual hour and 
spent the morning within the University buildings 
listening to the lectures and working for some time in 
the library. He heard the first vague rumour of some- 
thing in the way of bomb-throwing at the table of the 
students' ordinary, where he was accustomed to eat his 
two o'clock dinner. But this rumour was made up of 
mere whispers, and this was Russia, where it was not 
always safe, for a student especially, to appear too much 
interested in certain kinds of whispers. Razumov was 
one of those men who, living in a period of mental and 
political unrest, keep an instinctive hold on normal, 
practical, everyday life. He was aware of the emotional 
tension of his time ; he even responded to it in an 
indefinite way. But his main concern was with his work, 
his studies, and with his own future. 

Officially and in fact without a family (for the 

daughter of the Archpriest had long been dead), no home 

influences had shaped his opinions or his feelings. He 

was as lonely in the world as a man swimming in the 

-^ deep sea. The word Razumov was the mere label of a 

.^^ solitary individuality. There were no Razumovs belonging 

~ys to him anywhere. His closest parentage was defined in 

i" the statement that he was a Russian. Whatever good 


he expected from life would be given to or withheld from 
his hopes by that connexion alone. This immense 
parentage suffered from the throes of internal dissensions, 
and he shrank mentally from the fray as a good-natured 
man may shrink from taking definite sides in a violent 
family quarrel. 

Razumov, going home, reflected that having prepared 
all the matters of the forthcoming examination, he could 
now devote his time to the subject of the prize essay. 
He hankered after the silver medal. The prize was 
offered by the Ministry of Education ; the names of the 
competitors would be submitted to the Minister himself 
The mere fact of trying would be considered meritorious 
in the higher quarters ; and the possessor of the prize 
would have a claim to an administrative appointment of 
the better sort after he had taken his degree. The 
student Razumov in an access of elation forgot the 
dangers menacing the stability of the institutions which 
give rewards and appointments. But remembering the 
medallist of the year before, Razumov, the young man 
of no parentage, was sobered. He and some others 
happened to be assembled in their comrade's rooms at 
the very time when that last received the official advice 
of his success. He was a quiet, unassuming young man : 
" Forgive me," he had said with a faint apologetic smile 
and taking up his cap, " I am going out to order up some 
wine. But I must first send a telegram to my folk at 
home. I say ! Won't the old people make it a festive 
time for the neighbours for twenty miles around our place." 

Razumov thought there was nothing of that sort for 
him in the world. His success would matter to no one. 
But he felt no bitterness against the nobleman his 
protector, who was not a provincial magnate as was 
generally supposed. He was in fact nobody less than 
Prince K , once a great and splendid figure in the 


world and now, his day being over, a Senator and a 
gouty invalid, living in a still splendid but more 
domestic manner. He had some young children and a 
wife as aristocratic and proud as himself. 

In all his life Razumov was allowed only once to 
come into personal contact with the Prince. 

It had the air of a chance meeting in the little 
attorney's office. One day Razumov, coming in by 
appointment, found a stranger standing there — a tall, 
aristocratic-looking personage with silky, grey side- 
whiskers. The bald-headed, sly little lawyer-fellow 
called out, " Come in — come in, Mr. Razumov," with a 
sort of ironic heartiness. Then turning deferentially to 
the stranger with the grand air, " A ward of mine, your 
Excellency. One of the most promising students of his 
faculty in the St. Petersburg University." 

To his intense surprise Razumov saw a white shapely 
hand extended to him. He took it in great confusion (it 
was soft and passive) and heard at the same time a 
condescending murmur in which he caught only the 
words " Satisfactory " and " Persevere." But the most 
amazing thing of all was to feel suddenly a distinct 
pressure of the white shapely hand just before it was 
withdrawn : a light pressure like a secret sign. The 
emotion of it was terrible. Razumov's heart seemed to 
leap into his throat. When he raised his eyes the 
aristocratic personage, motioning the little lawyer aside, 
had opened the door and was going out. 

The attorney rummaged amongst the papers on his 
desk for a time. " Do you know who that was ? " he 
asked suddenly. 

Razumov, whose heart was thumping hard yet, 
shook his head in silence. 

" That was Prince K . You wonder what he 

could be doing in the hole of a poor legal rat like my- 


self — eh ? These awfully great people have their senti- 
mental curiosities like common sinners. But if I were 
you, Kirylo Sidorovitch," he continued, leering and lay- 
ing a peculiar emphasis on the patronymic, " I wouldn't 
boast at large of the introduction. It would not be 
prudent, Kirylo Sidorovitch. Oh dear no ! It would 
be in fact dangerous for your future." 

The young man's ears burned like fire ; his sight 
was dim. " That man ! " Razumov was saying to him- 
self. " He ! " 

Henceforth it was by this monosyllable that Mr. 
Razumov got into the habit of referring mentally to the 
stranger with grey silky side-whiskers. From that time 
too, when walking in the more fashionable quarters, he 
noted with interest the magnificent horses and carriages 

with Prince K 's liveries on the box. Once he saw 

the Princess get out — she was shopping — followed by 
two girls, of which one was nearly a head taller than 
the other. Their fair hair hung loose down their backs 
in the English style ; they had merry eyes, their coats, 
muffs, and little fur caps were exactly alike, and their 
cheeks and noses were tinged a cheerful pink by the 
frost. They crossed the pavement in front of him, and 
Razumov went on his way smiling shyly to himself. 
" His " daughters. They resembled " Him." The young 
man felt a glow of warm friendliness towards these girls 
who would never know of his existence. Presently they 
would marry Generals or Kammerherrs and have girls 
and boys of their own, who perhaps would be aware of 
him as a celebrated old professor, decorated, possibly a 
Privy Councillor, one of the glories of Russia— nothing 

more ! 1\/ (^ 

But a celebrated professor was a somebody. Dis- 
tinction would convert the label Razumov into an 
honoured name. There was nothing strange in the 


student Razumov's wish for distinction. A man's real 
life is that accorded to him in the thoughts of other 
men by reason of respect or natural love. Returning 

home on the day of the attempt on Mr. de P 's life 

Razumov resolved to have a good try for the silver 

Climbing slowly the four flights of the dark, dirty 
staircase in the house where he had his lodgings, he felt 
confident of success. The winner's name would be 
published in the papers on New Year's Day. And at 
the thought that " He " would most probably read it 
there, Razumov stopped short on the stairs for an instant, 
then went on smiling faintly at his own emotion. " This 
is but a shadow," he said to himself, " but the medal is 
a solid beginning." 

With those ideas of industry in his head the warmth 
of his room was agreeable and encouraging. " I shall 
put in four hours of good work," he thought. But no 
sooner had he closed the door than he was horribly 
startled. All black against the usual tall stove of white 
tiles gleaming in the dusk, stood a strange figure, wear- 
ing a skirted, close-fitting, brown cloth coat strapped 
round the waist, in long boots, and with a little Astra- 
khan cap on its head. It loomed lithe and martial. 
Razumov was utterly confounded. It was only when 
the figure advancing two paces asked in an untroubled, 
grave voice if the outer door was closed that he regained 
his power of speech. 

" Haldin ! . . . Victor Victorovitch ! . . . Is that 
you ? . . . Yes. The outer door is shut all right. But 
this is indeed unexpected." 

Victor Haldin, a student older than most of his con- 
temporaries at the University, was not one of the 
industrious set. He was hardly ever seen at lectures ; 
the authorities had marked him as " restless " and " un- 


sound " — very bad notes. But he had a great personal 
prestige with his comrades and influenced their thoughts. 
Razumov had never been intimate with him. They had 
met from time to time at gatherings in other students' 
houses. They had even had a discussion together — one 
of those discussions on first principles dear to the san- 
guine minds of youth. 

Razumov wished the man had chosen some other 
time to come for a chat. He felt in good trim to tackle 
the prize essay. But as Haldin could not be slightingly 
dismissed Razumov adopted the tone of hospitality, 
asking him to sit down and smoke. 

" Kirylo Sidorovitch," said the other, flinging off his 
cap, " we are not perhaps in exactly the same camp. Your 
judgment is more philosophical. You are a man of few 
words, but I haven't met anybody who dared to doubt 
the generosity of your sentiments. There is a solidity 
about your character which cannot exist without courage." 

Razumov felt flattered and began to murmur shyly 
something about being very glad of his good opinion, 
when Haldin raised his hand. 

" That is what I was saying to myself," he continued, 
" as I dodged in the woodyard down by the river-side. 
' He has a strong character this young man/ I said to 
myself. ' He does not throw his soul to the winds.' 
Your reserve has always fascinated me, Kirylo Sidor- 
ovitch. So I tried to remember your address. But look 
here — it was a piece of luck. Your dvornik was away 
from the gate talking to a sleigh-driver on the other 
side of the street. I met no one on the stairs, not a 
soul. As I came up to your floor I caught sight of 
your landlady coming out of your rooms. But she did 
not see me. She crossed the landing to her own side, 
and then I slipped in. I have been here two hours 
expecting you to come in every moment." 


Razumov had listened in astonishment; but before 
he could open his mouth Haldin added, speaking deliber- 
ately, " It was I who removed de P this morning." 

~ Razumov kept down a cry of dismay. The senti- 
ment of his life being utterly ruined by this contact with 
such a crime expressed itself quaintly by a sort of half- 
derisive mental exclamation, " There goes my silver 
medal ! " 

Haldin continued after waiting a while — 

" You say nothing, Kirylo Sidorovitch ! I under- 
stand your silence. To be sure, I cannot expect you 
with your frigid English manner to embrace me. But 
never mind your manners. You have enough heart to 
have heard the sound of weeping and gnashing of teeth 
this man raised in the land. That v/ould be enough to 
get over any philosophical hopes. He was uprooting 
the tender plant. He had to be stopped. He waS;,.^EL- 
.dangerous man — ^^convinced man. Three more years 
of his work would have put us back fifty years into 
bondage — and look at all the lives wasted, at all the 
souls lost in that time." 

His curt, self-confident voice suddenly lost its ring 
and it was in a dull tone that he added, " Yes, brother, 
I have killed him. It's weary work." 

Razumov had sunk into a chair. Every moment he 
expected a crowd of policemen to rush in. There must 
have been thousands of them out looking for that man 
walking up and down in his room. Haldin was talking 
again in a restrained, steady voice. Now and then he 
flourished an arm, slowly, without excitement. 

He told Razumov how he had brooded for a year; 

how he had not slept properly for weeks. He and 

"Another" had a warning of the Minister's movements 

/ from " a certain person " late the evening before. He 

/-.-aad that "Another" prepared their "engines" and 


resolved to have no sleep till " the deed " was done. 
They walked the streets under the falling snow with the 
" engines " on them, exchanging not a word the livelong 
night. When they happened to meet a police patrol 
they took each other by the arm and pretended to be a 
couple of peasants on the spree. They reeled and talked 
in drunken hoarse voices. Except for these strange out- 
breaks they kept silence, moving on ceaselessly. Their 
plans had been previously arranged. At daybreak they 
made their way to the spot which they knew the sledge 
must pass. When it appeared in sight they exchanged 
a muttered good-bye and separated. The " other " 
remained at the corner, Haldin took up a position a 
little farther up the street. . . . 

After throwing his " engine " he ran off and in a 
moment was overtaken by the panic-struck people flying 
away from the spot after the second explosion. They 
were wild with terror. He was jostled once or twice. 
He slowed down for the rush to pass him and then 
turned to the left into a narrow street. There he was 

He marvelled at this immediate escape. The work 
was done. He could hardly believe it. He fought with 
an almost irresistible longing to lie down on the pavement 
and sleep. But this sort of faintness — a drowsy faintness 
— passed off quickly. He walked faster, making his way 
to one of the poorer parts of the town in order to look 
up Ziemianitch. 

This Ziemianitch, Razumov understood, was a sort 
of town-peasant who had got on ; owner of a small 
number of sledges and horses for hire. Haldin paused 
in his narrative to exclaim — 

" A bright spirit ! A hardy soul ! The best driver 
in St. Petersburg. He has a team of three horses 
there. ... Ah ! He's a fellow ! " 


This man had declared himself willing to take out 
safely, at any time, one or two persons to the second or 
third railway station on one of the southern lines. But 
there had been no time to warn him the night before. 
His usual haunt seemed to be a low-class eating-house 
on the outskirts of the town. When Haldin got there 
the man was not to be found. He was not expected to 
turn up again till the evening. Haldin wandered away 

He saw the gate of a woodyard open and went in 
to get out of the wind which swept the bleak broad 
thoroughfare. The great rectangular piles of cut wood 
loaded with snow resembled the huts of a village. At 
first the watchman who discovered him crouching amongst 
them talked in a friendly manner. He was a dried-up 
old man wearing two ragged army coats one over the 
other ; his wizened little face, tied up under the jaw and 
over the ears in a dirty red handkerchief, looked comical. 
Presently he grew sulky, and then all at once without 
rhyme or reason began to shout furiously. 

" Aren't you ever going to clear out of this, you 
loafer ? We know all about factory hands of your sort. 
A big, strong, young chap ! You aren't even drunk. 
What do you want here ? You don't frighten us. Take 
yourself and your ugly eyes away." 

Haldin stopped before the sitting Razumov. His 
supple figure, with the white forehead above which the 
fair hair stood straight up, had an aspect of lofty daring. 

" He did not like my eyes," he said. " And so . . . 
here I am." 

Razumov made an effort to speak calmly. 

" But pardon me, Victor Victorovitch. We know 
each other so little. ... I don't see why you . . ." 

" Confidence," said Haldin. 

This word sealed Razumov's lips as if a hand had 


been clapped on his mouth. His brain seethed with 

" And so — here you are," he muttered through his 

The other did not detect the tone of anger. Never 
suspected it. 

" Yes. And nobody knows I am here. You are the 
last person that could be suspected — should I get caught. 
That's an advantage, you see. And then — spgaking to a 
superior mind like yours I can well say all the truth. It 
occurred to me that you — you have no one belonging to 
you — no ties, no one to suffer for it if this came out by 
some means. There have been enough ruined Russian 
homes as it is. But I don't see how my passage through 
your rooms can be ever known. If I should be got hold 
of, I'll know how to keep silent — no matter what they 
may be pleased to do to me," he added grimly. 

He began to walk again while Razumov sat still 

" You thought that " he faltered out almost sick 

with indignation. ^\^ 

" Yes, Razumov. Yes, brother. Some day you shall 
help to build. You suppose that I am a terrorist, now 
— a destructor of what is. But consider that the true 
destroyers are they who destroy the spirit of progress and 
truth, not the avengers who merely kill the bodies of the 
persecutors of human dignity. Men like me are necessary 
to make room for self-contained, thinking men like you. 
Well, we have made the sacrifice of our lives, but all the 
same I want to escape if it can be done. It is not my 
life I want to save, but my power to do. I won't live 
idle. Oh no ! Don't make any mistake, Razumov. Men 
like me are rare. And, besides, an example like this is 
more awful to oppressors when the perpetrator vanishes 
without a trace. They sit in their offices and palaces and 


quake. All I want you to do is to help me to vanish. 
No great matter that. Only to go by and by and see 
Ziemianitch for me at that place where I went this morn- 
ing. Just tell him, ' He whom you know wants a well- 
horsed sledge to pull up half an hour after midnight at 
the seventh lamp-post on the left counting from the upper 
end of Karabelnaya. If nobody gets in, the sledge is to 
run round a block or two, so as to come back past the 
same spot in ten minutes' time.' " 

Razumov wondered why he had not cut short that 
talk and told this man to go away long before. Was it 
weakness or what ? 

He concluded that it was a sound instinct. Haldin 
must have been seen. It was impossible that some people 
should not have noticed the face and appearance of the 
man who threw the second bomb. Haldin was a notice- 
able person. The police in their thousands must have 
had his description within the hour. With every moment 
the danger grew. Sent out to wander in the streets he 
could not escape being caught in the end. 

The police would very soon find out all about him. 
They would set about discovering a conspiracy. Every- 
body Haldin had ever known would be in the greatest 
danger. Unguarded expressions, little facts in themselves 
innocent would be counted for crimes. Razumov remem- 
bered certain words he said, the speeches he had listened 
to, the harmless gatherings he had attended — it was almost 
impossible for a student to keep out of that sort of thing, 
without becoming suspect to his comrades. 

Razumov saw himself shut up in a fortress, worried, 
badgered, perhaps ill-used. He saw himself deported by 
an administrative order, his life broken, ruined, and robbed 
of all hope. He saw himself — at best — leading a miser- 
able existence under police supervision, in some small, far- 
awayprovincial town, without friends to assist hisnecessities 


or even take any steps to alleviate his lot — as others 
had. Others had fathers, mothers, brothers, relations, 
connexions, to move heaven and earth on their behalf 
— he had no one. The very officials that sentenced him 
some morning would forget his existence before sunset. 

He saw his youth pass away from him in misery and 
half starvation — his strength give way, his mind become 
an abject thing. He saw himself creeping, broken down 
and shabby, about the streets — dying unattended in some 
filthy hole of a room, or on the sordid bed of a Govern- 
ment hospital. 

He shuddered. Then the peace of bitter calmness 
came over him. It was best to keep this man out of the 
streets till he could be got rid of with some chance 
of escaping. That was the best that could be done. 
Razumov, of course, felt the safety of his lonely existence 
to be permanently endangered. This evening's doings 
could turn up against him at any time as long as this 
man lived and the present institutions endured. They 
appeared to him rational and indestructible at that 
moment. They had a force of harmony — in contrast 
with the horrible discord of this man's presence. He 
hated the man. He said quietly — 

" Yes, of course, I will go. You must give me 
precise directions, and for the rest — depend on me." 

" Ah ! You are a fellow ! Collected — cool as a 
cucumber. A regular Englishman. Where did you get 
your soul from ? There aren't many like you. Look 
here, brother ! Men like me leave no posterity, but 
their souls are not lost. No man's soul is ever lost. It 
works for itself — or else where would be the sense of 
self-sacrifice, of martyrdom, of conviction, of faith — the 
labours of the soul ? What will become of my soul when 
I die in the way I must die — soon — very soon perhaps ? 
It shall not perish. Don't make a mistake, Razumov. 


This is not murder — it is war, war. My spirit shall go 
on warring in some Russian body till all falsehood is 
swept out of the world. The modern civilization is false, 
but a new revelation shall come out of Russia. Ha ! 
you say nothing. You are a sceptic. I respect your 
philosophical scepticism, Razumov, but don't touch the 
soul. The Russian soul that lives in all of us. It has 
a future. It has a mission, I tell you, or else why should 
I have been moved to do this — reckless — like a butcher 
— in the middle of all these innocent people — scattering 
death — I ! I ! ... I wouldn't hurt a fly ! " 

" Not so loud," warned Razumov harshly. 

Haldin sat down abruptly, and leaning his head on 
his folded arms burst into tears. He wept for a long 
time. The dusk had deepened in the room. Razumov, 
motionless in sombre wonder, listened to the sobs. 

The other raised his head, got up and with an effort 
mastered his voice. 

" Yes. Men like me leave no posterity," he repeated 
in a subdued tone. " I have a sister though. She's with 
my old mother — I persuaded them to go abroad this 
year — thank God. Not a bad little girl my sister. She 
has the most trustful eyes of any human being that ever 
walked this earth. She will marry well, I hope. She 
may have children — sons perhaps. Look at me. My 
father was a Government official in the provinces. He 
had a little land too, A simple servant of God — a true 
Russian in his way. His was the soul of obedience. 
But I am not like him. They say I resemble my 
mother's eldest brother, an officer. They shot him in 
'28. Under Nicholas, you know. Haven't I told you 
that this is war, war. . . . But God of Justice ! This is 
weary work." 

Razumov, in his chair, leaning his head on his hand, 
spoke as if from the bottom of an abyss. 


" You believe in God, Haldin ? " -^ 

" There you go catching at words that are wrung 
from one. What does it matter ? What was it the 
Englishman said : ' There is a divine soul in things . . .' 
Devil take him — I don't remember now. But he spoke 
the truth. When the day of you thinkers comes don't 
you forget what's divine in the Russian soul — and that's 
resignation. Respect that in your intellectual restless- 
ness and don't let your arrogant wisdom spoil its message 
to the world. I am speaking to you now like a man 
with a rope round his neck. What do you imagine I 
am ? A being in revolt ? No. It's you thinkers who 
are in everlasting revolt. I am one of the resigned. 
When the necessity of this heavy work came to me and 
I understood that it had to be done — what did I do ? 
Did I exult ? Did I take pride in my purpose ? Did I 
try to weigh its worth and consequences ? No ! I was 
resigned. I thought ' God's will be done.' " 

He threw himself full length on Razumov's bed and 
putting the backs of his hands over his eyes remained 
perfectly motionless and silent. Not even the sound of 
his breathing could be heard. The dead stillness of the 
room remained undisturbed till in the darkness Razumov 
said gloomily — 

" Haldin." 

" Yes," answered the other readily, quite invisible 
now on the bed and without the slightest stir. 

" Isn't it time for me to start ? " 

" Yes, brother." The other was heard, lying still in 
the darkness as though he were talking in his sleep. 
" The time has come to put fate to the test." 

He paused, then gave a few lucid directions in the 
quiet impersonal voice of a man in a trance. Razumov 
made ready without a word of answer. As he was 
leaving the room the voice on the bed said after him — 


" Go with God, thou silent soul." 

On the landing, moving softly, Razumov locked the 
door and put the key in his pocket. 


The words and events of that evening must have 
been graven as if with a steel tool on Mr, Razumov's 
brain since he was able to write his relation with such 
fullness and precision a good many months afterwards. 

The record of the thoughts which assailed him in 
the street is even more minute and abundant. They 
seem to have rushed upon him with the greater freedom 
because his thinking powers were no longer crushed by 
Haldin's presence — the appalling presence of a great 
,^-erime and the stunning force of a great fanaticism. On 
looking through the pages of Mr. Razumov's diary I 
own that a " rush of thoughts " is not an adequate 
\ image. 

The more adequate description would be a tumult 
of thoughts — the faithful reflection of the state of his 
feelinsfs. The thoughts in themselves were not 
numerous — they were like the thoughts of most human 
beings, few and simple — but they cannot be reproduced 
here in all their exclamatory repetitions which went on 
in an endless and weary turmoil — for the walk was long. 
If to the Western reader they appear shocking, 
inappropriate, or even improper, it must be remembered 
that as to the first this may be the effect of my crude 
statement. For the rest I will only remark here that 
this is not a story of the West of Europe. 

Nations it may be have fashioned their Governments, 
but the Governments have paid them back in the same 
coin. It is unthinkable that any young Englishman 


should find himself in Razumov's situation. This being 
so it would be a vain enterprise to imagine what he 
would think. The only safe surmise to make is that 
he would not think as Mr. Razumov thought at this 
crisis of his fate. He would not have an hereditary 
and personal knowledge of the means by which a 
historical autocracy represses ideas, guards its power, 
and defends its existence. By an act of mental 
extravagance he might imagine himself arbitrarily 
thrown into prison, but it would never occur to him 
unless he were delirious (and perhaps not even then) 
that he could be beaten with whips as a practical 
measure either of investigation or of punishment. 

This is but a crude and obvious example of the 
different conditions of Western thought. I don't know 
that this danger occurred, specially to Mr. Razumov. 
No doubt it entered unconsciously into the general 
dread and the general appallingness of this crisis. 
Razumov, as has been seen, was aware of more subtle 
ways in which an individual may be undone by the 
proceedings of a despotic Government. A simple 
expulsion from the University (the very least that could 
happen to him), with an impossibility to continue his 
studies anywhere, was enough to ruin utterly a young 
man depending entirely upon the development of his 
natural abilities for his place in the world. He was 
a Russian : and for him to be implicated meant simply 
sinking into the lowest social depths amongst the 
hopeless and the destitute — the night birds of the 

The peculiar circumstances of Razumov's parentage, 
or rather of his lack of parentage, should be taken into 
the account of his thoughts. And he remembered them 
too. He had been lately reminded of them in a 
peculiarly atrocious way by this fatal Haldin. " Because 


I haven't that, must everything else be taken away from 
me ? " he thought. 

He nerved himself for another effort to go on. 
Along the roadway sledges glided phantom-like and 
jingling through a fluttering whiteness on the black 
face of the night. " For it is a crime," he was saying 
to himself " A murder is a murder. Though, of 
course, some sort of liberal institutions. . . ." 

A feeling of horrible sickness came over him. " I 
must be courageous," he exhorted himself mentally. 
All his strength was suddenly gone as if taken out 
by a hand. Then by a mighty effort of will it came 
back because he was afraid of fainting in the street 
and being picked up by the police with the key of his 
lodgings in his pocket. They would find Haldin there, 
and then, indeed, he would be undone. 

Strangely enough it was this fear which seems to 
liave kept him up to the end. The passers-by were 
rcire. They came upon him suddenly, looming up black 
in the snowflakes close by, then vanishing all at once — 
without footfalls. 

It was the quarter of the very poor. Razumov 
noticed an elderly woman tied up in ragged shawls. 
Under the street lamp she seemed a beggar off duty. 
She walked leisurely in the blizzard as though she had 
no home to hurry to, she hugged under one arm a round 
loaf of black bread with an air of guarding a priceless 
booty : and Razumov averting his glance envied her 
the peace of her mind and the serenity of her fate. 

To one reading Mr. Razumov's narrative it is really 
a wonder how he managed to keep going as he did 
along one interminable street after another on pave- 
ments that were gradually becoming blocked with snow. 
It was the thought of Haldin locked up in his rooms 
and the desperate desire to get rid of his presence which 


drove him forward. No rational determination had any 
part in his exertions. Thus, when on arriving at the 
low eating-house he heard that the man of horses, 
Ziemianitch, was not there, he could only stare stupidly. 

The waiter, a wild-haired youth in" tarred boots and 
a pink shirt, exclaimed, uncovering his pale gums in a 
silly grin, that Ziemianitch had got his skinful early in 
the afternoon and had gone away with a bottle under 
each arm to keep it up amongst the horses — he supposed. 

The owner of the vile den, a bony short man in a 
dirty cloth caftan coming down to his heels, stood by, 
his hands tucked into his belt, and nodded confirmation. 

The reek of spirits, the greasy rancid steam of food 
got Razumov by the throat. He struck a table with his 
clenched hand and shouted violently — 

" You lie." 

Bleary unwashed faces were turned to his direction. 
A mild-eyed ragged tramp drinking tea at the next table 
moved farther away. A murmur of wonder arose with 
an undertone of uneasiness. A laugh was heard too, and 
an exclamation, " There ! there ! " jeeringly soothing. 
The waiter looked all round and announced to the room — 

" The gentleman won't believe that Ziemianitch is 

From a distant corner a hoarse voice belonging to a 
horrible, nondescript, shaggy being with a black face like 
the muzzle of a bear grunted angrily — 

" The cursed driver of thieves. What do we want 
with his gentlemen here? We are all honest folk in this 

Razumov, biting his lip till blood came to keep him- 
self from bursting into imprecations, followed the owner 
of the den, who, whispering " Come along, little father," 
led him into a tiny hole of a place behind the wooden 
counter, whence proceeded a sound of splashing. A wet 


and bedraggled creature, a sort of sexless and shivering 
scarecrow, washed glasses in there, bending over a wooden 
tub by the light of a tallow dip. 

" Yes, little father," the man in the long caftan said 
plaintively. He had a brown, cunning little face, a thin 
greyish beard. Trying to light a tin lantern he hugged 
it to his breast and talked garrulously the while. 

He would show Ziemianitch to the gentleman to 
prove there were no lies told. And he would show him 
drunk. His woman, it seems, ran away from him last 
night. " Such a hag she was ! Thin ! Pfui ! " He 
spat. They were always running away from that driver 
of the devil — and he sixty years old too ; could never 
get used to it. But each heart knows sorrow after its 
own kind and Ziemianitch was a born fool all his days. 
And then he would fly to the bottle. " ' Who could 
bear life in our land without the bottle ? ' he says. A 
proper Russian man — the little pig. ... Be pleased to 
follow me." 

Razumov crossed a quadrangle of deep snow enclosed 
between high walls with innumerable windows. Here 
and there a dim yellow light hung within the four-square 
mass of darkness. The house was an enormous slum, a 
hive of human vermin, a monumental abode of misery 
towering on the verge of starvation and despair. 

In a corner the ground sloped sharply down, and 
Razumov followed the light of the lantern through a 
small doorway into a long cavernous place like a 
neglected subterranean byre. Deep within, three shaggy 
little horses tied up to rings hung their heads together, 
motionless and shadowy in the dim light of the lantern. 
It must have been the famous team of Haldin's escape. 
Razumov peered fearfully into the gloom. His guide 
pawed in the straw with his foot. 

" Here he is. Ah ! the little pigeon. A true Russian 


man, ' No heavy hearts for me,' he says. ' Bring out 
the bottle and take your ugly mug out of my sight.' 
Ha ! ha ! ha ! That's the fellow he is." 

He held the lantern over a prone form of a man, 
apparently fully dressed for outdoors. His head was lost 
in a pointed cloth hood. On the other side of a heap of 
straw protruded a pair of feet in monstrous thick boots. 

" Always ready to drive," commented the keeper of 
the eating-house. " A proper Russian driver that. 
Saint or devil, night or day is all one to Ziemianitch 
when his heart is free from sorrow. ' I don't ask who you 
are, but where you want to go,' he says. He would 
drive Satan himself to his own abode and come back 
chirruping to his horses. Many a one he has driven who 
is clanking his chains in the Nertchinsk mines by this 

Razumov shuddered. 

" Call him, wake him up," he faltered out. 
The other set down his light, stepped back and 
launched a kick at the prostrate sleeper. The man shook 
at the impact but did not move. At the third kick he 
grunted but remained inert as before. 

The eating-house keeper desisted and fetched a deep 

" You see for yourself how it is. We have done 
what we can for you." 

He picked up the lantern. The intense black spokes 
of shadow swung about in the circle of light. A terrible 
fury — the blind rage of self-preservation — possessed 

" Ah ! The vile beast," he bellowed out in an un- 
earthly tone which made the lantern jump and tremble! 
" I shall wake you ! Give me . . . Give me . , ." 

He looked round wildly, seized the handle of a 
stablefork and rushing forward struck at the prostrate 


body with inarticulate cries. After a time his cries 
ceased, and the rain of blows fell in the stillness and 
shadows of the cellar-like stable. Razumov belaboured 
Ziemianitch with an insatiable fury, in great volleys of 
sounding thwacks. Except for the violent movements of 
Razumov nothing stirred, neither the beaten man nor the 
spoke-like shadows on the walls. And only the sound 
of blows was heard. It was a weird scene. 

Suddenly there was a sharp crack. The stick broke 
and half of it flew far away into the gloom beyond the 
light. At the same time Ziemianitch sat up. At this 
Razumov became as motionless as the man with the 
lantern — only his breast heaved for air as if ready to 

Some dull sensation of pain must have penetrated at 
last the consoling night of drunkenness enwrapping the 
"bright Russian soul" of Haldin's enthusiastic praise. 
But Ziemianitch evidently saw nothing. His eyeballs 
blinked all white in the light once, twice — then the 
gleam went out. For a moment he sat in the straw with 
closed eyes with a strange air of weary meditation, then 
fell over slowly on his side without making the slightest 
sound. Only the straw rustled a little. Razumov 
stared wildly, fighting for his breath. After a second or 
two he heard a light snore. 

He flung from him the piece of stick remaining in 
his grasp, and went off with great hasty strides without 
looking back once. 

After going heedlessly for some fifty yards along the 
street he walked into a snowdrift and was up to his 
knees before he stopped. 

This recalled him to himself; and glancing about he 
discovered he had been going in the wrong direction. 
He retraced his steps, but now at a more moderate pace. 
When passing before the house he had just left he 


flourished his fist at the sombre refuge of misery and 
crime rearing its sinister bulk on the white ground. It 
had an air of brooding. He let his arm fall by his 
side — discouraged. 

Ziemianitch's passionate surrender to sorrow and 
consolation had baffled him. That was the people, 
A true Russian man ! Razumov was glad he had beaten 
that brute — the " bright soul " of the other. Here they 
were : the people and the enthusiast. 

Between the two he was done for. Between the 
drunkenness of the peasant incapable of action and the 
dream-intoxication of the idealist incapable of perceiving 
the reason of things, and the true character of men. It 
was a sort of terrible childishness. But children had their 
masters. " Ah ! the stick, the stick, the stern hand, " 
thought Razumov, longing for power to hurt and destroy. 

He was glad he had thrashed that brute. The 
physical exertion had left his body in a comfortable glow. 
His mental agitation too was clarified as if all the fever- 
ishness had gone out of him in a fit of outward violence. 
Together with the persisting sense of terrible danger he 
was conscious now of a tranquil, unquenchable hate. 

He walked slower and slower. And indeed, con- 
sidering the guest he had in his rooms, it was no wonder 
he lingered on the way. It was like harbouring a 
pestilential disease that would not perhaps take your life, 
but would take from you all that made life worth living 
— a subtle pest that would convert earth into a hell. 

What was he doing now ? Lying on the bed as if 
dead, with the back of his hands over his eyes ? Razu- 
mov had a morbidly vivid vision of Haldin on his bed — 
the white pillow hollowed by the head, the legs in long 
boots, the upturned feet. And in his abhorrence he said to 
himself, " I'll kill him when I get home." But he knew 
very well that that was of no use. The corpse hanging 


round his neck would be nearly as fatal as the living 
man. Nothing short of complete annihilation would do. 
And that was impossible. What then ? Must one kill 
oneself to escape this visitation ? 

Razumov's despair was too profoundly tinged with 
hate to accept that issue. 

And yet it was despair — nothing less — at the 
thought of having to live with Haldin for an indefinite 
number of days in mortal alarm at every sound. But 
perhaps when he heard that this " bright soul " of Ziemi- 
anitch suffered from a drunken eclipse the fellow would 
take his infernal resignation somewhere else. And that 
was not likely on the face of it. 

Razumov thought : " I am being crushed — and I 
can't even run away." Other men had somewhere a 
corner of the earth — some little house in the provinces 
where they had a right to take their troubles. A 
material refuge. He had nothing. He had not even a 
moral refuge — the refuge of confidence. To whom could 
he go with this tale — in all this great, great land ? 

Razumov stamped his foot — and under the soft 
carpet of snow felt the hard ground of Russia, inanimate, 
cold, inert, like a sullen and tragic mother hiding her 
face under a winding-sheet — ^his native soil ! — his very 
own — without a fireside, without a heart ! 

He cast his eyes upwards and stood amazed. The 
snow had ceased to fall, and now, as if by a miracle, he 
saw above his head the clear black sky of the northern 
winter, decorated with the sumptuous fires of the stars. 
It was a canopy fit for the resplendent purity of the snows. 

Razumov received an almost physical impression of 
endless space and of countless millions. 

He responded to it with the readiness of a Russian 
who is born to an inheritance of space and numbers. 
Under the sumptuous immensity of the sky, the snow 


covered the endless forests, the frozen rivers, the plains 
of an immense country, obliterating the landmarks, the 
accidents of the ground, levelling everything under its - - 
uniform whiteness, like a monstrous blank page awaiting 

the record of an inconceivable history It covered the 

passive land with its lives of countless people like 
Ziemianitch and its handful of agitators like this Haldin 
— murdering foolishly. 

It was a sort of sacred inertia. Razumov felt a 
respect for it. A voice seemed to cry within him, 
" Don't touch it," It was a guarantee of duration, of 
safety, while the travail of maturing destiny went on — 
a work not of revolutions with their passionate levity of 
action and their shifting impulses — but of peace. 'What 
it needed was not the conflicting aspirations of a people, 
but a will strong and one : it wanted not the babble of / 
many voices, but a man — strong and one ! 

Razumov stood on the point of conversion. He was ■ 
fascinated by its approach, by its overpowering logic. I 
For a train of thought is never false. The falsehood 
lies deep in the necessities of existence, in secret fears 
and half-formed ambitions, in the secret confidence 
combined with a secret mistrust of ourselves, in the love 
of hope and the dread of uncertain days. 

In Russia, the land of spectral ideas and disembodied 
aspirations, many brave minds have turned away at last 
from the vain and endless conflict to the one great 
historical fact of the land. They turned to autocracy 
for the peace of their patriotic conscience as a weary 
unbeliever, touched by grace, turns to the faith of his 
fathers for the blessing of spiritual rest. Like other 
Russians before him, Razumov, in conflict with himself, 
felt the touch of grace upon his forehead. 

" Haldin means disruption," he thought to himself, 
beginning to walk again. " What is he with his indigna- 


tion, with his talk of bondage — with his talk of God's 
justice ? All that means disruption. Better that 
thousands should suffer than that a people should become 
a disintegrated mass, helpless like dust in the wind. 
Obscurantism is better than the light of incendiary 
torches. The seed germinates in the night. Out of 
the dark soil springs the perfect plant. But a volcanic 
eruption is sterile, the ruin of the fertile ground. And 
am I, who love my country — who have nothing but that 
to love and put my faith in — am I to have my future, 
perhaps my usefulness, ruined by this sanguinary 
fanatic ? " 

The grace entered into Razumov. He believed 
now in the man who would come at the appointed time. 

What is a throne ? A few pieces of wood up- 
holstered in velvet. But a throne is a seat of power 
too. The form of government is the shape of a tool — 
an instrument. But twenty thousand bladders inflated 
by the noblest sentiments and jostling against each other 
in the air are a miserable incumbrance of space, holding 
no power, possessing no will, having nothing to give. 

He went on thus, heedless of the way, holding a 
discourse with himself with extraordinary abundance and 
facility. Generally his phrases came to him slowly, after 
a conscious and painstaking wooing. Some superior 
power had inspired him with a flow of masterly argu- 
ment as certain converted sinners become overwhelmingly 

He felt an austere exultation. 

" What are the luridly smoky lucubrations of that 
fellow to the clear grasp of my intellect ? " he thought. 
" Is not this my country ? Have I not got forty million 
brothers ? " he asked himself, unanswerably victorious in 
the silence of his breast. And the fearful thrashing he 
had given the inanimate Ziemianitch seemed to him 


a sign of intimate union, a pathetically severe necessity 
of brotherly love. " No ! If I must suffer let me at 
least suffer for my convictions, not for a crime my reason 
— my cool superior reason — rejects," 

He ceased to think for a moment. The silence in 
his breast was complete. But he felt a suspicious 
uneasiness, such as we may experience when we enter 
an unlighted strange place — the irrational feeling that 
something may jump upon us in the dark — the absurd 
dread of the unseen. 

Of course he was far from being a moss-grown re- 
actionary. Everything was not for the best. Despotic 
bureaucracy , . . abuses . . . corruption . . . and so on. 
Capable men were wanted. Enlightened intelligences. 
Devoted hearts. But absolute power should be preserved 
— the tool ready for the man — for the great autocrat of 
the future. Razumov believed in him. The logic of 
history made him unavoidable. The state of the people 
demanded him. " What else ? " he asked himself 
ardently, " could move all that mass in one direction ? 
Nothing could. Nothing but a single will." 

He was persuaded that he was sacrificing his personal 
longings of liberalism — rejecting the attractive error for 
the stern Russian truth. " That's patriotism," he observed 
mentally, and added, " There's no stopping midway on 
that road," and then remarked to himself, " I am not a 

And again there was a dead silence in Razumov's 
breast. He walked with lowered head, making room for 
no one. He walked slowly and his thoughts returning 
spoke within him with solemn slowness. 

" What is this Haldin ? And what am I ? Only 
two grains of sand. But a great mountain is made up 
of just such insignificant grains. And the death of a 
man or of many men is an insignificant thing. Yet we 



combat a contagious pestilence. Do I want his death ? 
No ! I would save him if I could — but no one can do 
that — he is the withered member which must be cut off. 
If I must perish through him, let me at least not perish 
with him, and associated against my will with his sombre 
folly that understands nothing either of men or things. 
Why should I leave a false memory ? " 

It passed through his mind that there was no one in 
the world who cared what sort of memory he left behind 
him. He exclaimed to himself instantly, " Perish vainly 
for a falsehood ! . . . What a miserable fate ! " 

He was now in a more animated part of the town. 
He did not remark the crash of two colliding sledges 
close to the curb. The driver of one bellowed tearfully 
at his fellow — 

" Oh, thou vile wretch ! " 

This hoarse yell, let out nearly in his ear, disturbed 
Razumov. He shook his head impatiently and went on 
looking straight before him. Suddenly on the snow, 
stretched on his back right across his path, he saw 
Haldin, solid, distinct, real, with his inverted hands over 
his eyes, clad in a brown close-fitting coat and long 
boots. He was lying out of the way a little, as though 
he had selected that place on purpose. The snow round 
him was untrodden. 

This hallucination had such a solidity of aspect that 
the first movement of Razumov was to reach for his 
pocket to assure himself that the key of his rooms was 
there. But he checked the impulse with a disdainful 
curve of his lips. He understood. His thought, con- 
centrated intensely on the figure left lying on his bed, 
had culminated in this extraordinary illusion of the sight. 
Razumov tackled the phenomenon calmly. With a stern 
face, without a check and gazing far beyond the vision, 
he walked on, experiencing nothing but a slight tighten- 


ing of the chest. After passing he turned his head 
for a glance, and saw only the unbroken track of his 
footsteps over the place where the breast of the phantom 
had been lying. 

Razumov walked on and after a little time whispered 
his wonder to himself 

" Exactly as if alive ! Seemed to breathe ! And 
right in my way too ! I have had an extraordinary 

He made a few steps and muttered through his set 
teeth — 

" I shall give him up." 

Then for some twenty yards or more all was blank. 
He wrapped his cloak closer round him. He pulled his 
cap well forward over his eyes. 

" Betray. A great word. What is betrayal ? They 
talk of a man betraying his country, his friends, his 
sweetheart. There must be a moral bond first. All a 
man can betray is his conscience. And how is my 
conscience engaged here ; by what bond of common 
faith, of common conviction, am I obliged to let that 
fanatical idiot drag me down with him ? On the 
contrary — every obligation of true courage is the other 

Razumov looked round from under his cap. 

" What can the prejudice of the world reproach me 
with? Have I provoked his confidence? No! Have 
I by a single word, look, or gesture given him reason to 
suppose that I accepted his trust in me? No! It is 
true that I consented to go and see his Ziemianitch. 
Well, I have been to see him. And I broke a stick on 
his back too — the brute." 

Something seemed to turn over in his head 
bringing uppermost a singularly hard, clear facet of his 


" It would be better, however," he reflected with a 
quite different mental accent, " to keep that circumstance 
altogether to myself." 

He had passed beyond the turn leading to his 
lodgings, and had reached a wide and fashionable street. 
Some shops were still open, and all the restaurants. 
Lights fell on the pavement where men in expensive fur 
coats, with here and there the elegant figure of a woman, 
walked with an air of leisure. Razumov looked at them 
with the contempt of an austere believer for the frivolous 
crowd. It was the world — those officers, dignitaries, men 
of fashion, officials, members of the Yacht Club. The 
event of the morning affected them all. What would 
they say if they knew what this student in a cloak was 
going to do ? 

" Not one of them is capable of feeling and thinking 
as deeply as I can. How many of them could accom- 
plish an act of conscience ? " 

Razumov lingered in the well-lighted street. He 
was firmly decided. Indeed, it could hardly be called 
a decision. He had simply discovered what he had 
meant to do all along. And yet he felt the need of 
some other mind's sanction. 

With something resembhng anguish he said to 
himself — 

" I want to be understood." The universal aspira- 
tion with all its profound and melancholy meaning 
assailed heavily Razumov, who, amongst eighty millions 
of his kith and kin, had no heart to which he could open 

The attorney was not to be thought of. He despised 
the little agent of chicane too much. One could not go 
and lay one's conscience before the policeman at the 
corner. Neither was Razumov anxious to go to the 
chief of his district's police — a common-looking person 


whom he used to see sometimes in the street in a 
shabby uniform and with a smouldering cigarette stuck 
to his lower lip. " He would begin by locking me up 
most probably. At any rate, he is certain to get ex- 
cited and create an awful commotion," thought Razumov 
practically. > — 

An act of conscience must be done with outward 
dignity. — 

Razumov longed desperately for a word of advice, 
for moral support. Who knows what true loneliness is 
— not the conventional word, but the naked terror? 
To the lonely themselves it wears a mask. The most 
miserable outcast hugs some memory or some illusion. 
Now and then a fatal conjunction of events may lift the 
veil for an instant. For an instant only. No human 
being could bear a steady view of moral solitude without 
going mad. ^ — ' 

Razumov had reached that point of vision. To 
escape from it he embraced for a whole minute the 
delirious purpose of rushing to his lodgings and flinging 
himself on his knees by the side of the bed with the 
dark figure stretched on it ; to pour out a full confession 
in passionate words that would stir the whole being of 
that man to its innermost depths ; that would end in 
embraces and tears ; in an incredible fellowship of souls 
— such as the world had never seen. It was sublime ! 

Inwardly he wept and trembled already. But to the 
casual eyes that were cast upon him he was aware that 
he appeared as a tranquil student in a cloak, out for 
a leisurely stroll. He noted, too, the sidelong, brilliant 
glance of a pretty woman — with a delicate head, and 
covered in the hairy skins of wild beasts down to her 
feet, like a frail and beautiful savage — which rested for 
a moment with a sort of mocking tenderness on the 
deep abstraction of that good-looking young man. 


Suddenly Razumov stood still. The glimpse of a 
passing grey whisker, caught and lost in the same 
instant, had evoked the complete image of Prince 

K , the man who once had pressed his hand as no 

other man had pressed it — a faint but lingering pressure 
like a secret sign, like a half-unwilling caress. 

And Razumov marvelled at himself. Why did he 
not think of him before ! 

" A senator, a dignitary, a great personage, the very 
man— He ! " 

A strange softening emotion came over Razumov — 
made his knees shake a little. He repressed it with a 
new-born austerity. All that sentiment was pernicious 
nonsense. He couldn't be quick enough ; and when he 
got into a sledge he shouted to the driver — 

" To the K Palace. Get on — you ! Fly ! " 

The startled moujik, bearded up to the very whites 
of his eyes, answered obsequiously — 

" I hear, your high Nobility." 

It was lucky for Razumov that Prince K was 

not a man of timid character. On the day of Mr. de 

P 's murder an extreme alarm and despondency 

prevailed in the high official spheres. 

Prince K , sitting sadly alone in his study, was 

told by his alarmed servants that a mysterious young 
man had forced his way into the hall, refused to tell his 
name and the nature of his business, and would not 
move from there till he had seen his Excellency in 
private. Instead of locking himself up and telephoning 
for the police, as nine out of ten high personages would 
have done that evening, the Prince gave way to curiosity 
and came quietly to the door of his study. 

In the hall, the front door standing wide open, he 
recognised at once Razumov, pale as death, his eyes 
blazing, and surrounded by perplexed lackeys. 


The Prince was vexed beyond measure, and even 
indignant. But his humane instincts and a subtle sense 
of self-respect could not allow him to let this young 
man be thrown out into the street by base menials. He 
retreated unseen into his room, and after a little rang his 
bell. Razumov heard in the hall an ominously raised 
harsh voice saying somewhere far away — 

" Show the gentleman in here," 

Razumov walked in without a tremor. He felt him- 
self invulnerable — raised far above the shallowness of 
common judgment. Though he saw the Prince looking 
at him with black displeasure, the lucidity of his mind, of 
which he was very conscious, gave him an extraordinary 
assurance. He was not asked to sit down. 

Half an hour later they appeared in the hall together. 
The lackeys stood up, and the Prince, moving with 
difficulty on his gouty feet, was helped into his furs. 
The carriage had been ordered before. When the great 
double door was flung open with a crash, Razumov, who 
had been standing silent with a lost gaze but with 
every faculty intensely on the alert, heard the Prince's 
voice — 

" Your arm, young man." 

The mobile, superficial mind of the ex-Guards officer, 
man of showy missions, experienced in nothing but the 
arts of gallant intrigue and worldly success, had been 
equally impressed by the more obvious difficulties of 
such a situation and by Razumov's quiet dignity in 
stating them. 

He had said, " No. Upon the whole I can't con- 
demn the step you ventured to take by coming to me 
with your story. It is not an affair for police under- 
strappers. The greatest importance is attached to . . . 
Set your mind at rest. I shall see you through this 
most extraordinary and difficult situation." 


Then the Prince rose to ring the bell, and Razumov, 
making a short bow, had said with deference — 

" I have trusted my instinct. A young man having 
no claim upon anybody in the world has in an hour of 
trial involving his deepest political convictions turned to 
an illustrious Russian — that's all." 

The Prince had exclaimed hastily — 

" You have done well." 

In the carriage — it was a small brougham on sleigh 
runners — Razumov broke the silence in a voice that 
trembled slightly. 

" My gratitude surpasses the greatness of my pre- 

He gasped, feeling unexpectedly in the dark a mo- 
mentary pressure on his arm. 

" You have done well," repeated the Prince. 

When the carriage stopped the Prince murmured to 
Razumov, who had never ventured a single question — 

" The house of General T ," 

In the middle of the snow-covered roadway blazed a 
great bonfire. Some Cossacks, the bridles of their horses 
over the arm, were warming themselves around. Two 
sentries stood at the door, several gendarmes lounged 
under the great carriage gateway, and on the first-floor 
landing two orderlies rose and stood at attention. Razu- 
mov walked at the Prince's elbow. 

A surprising quantity of hot-house plants in pots 
cumbered the floor of the ante-room. Servants came 
forward. A young man in civilian clothes arrived 
hurriedly, was whispered to, bowed low, and 
zealously, " Certainly — this minute," fled within some- 
where. The Prince signed to Razumov. 

They passed through a suite of reception-rooms all 
barely lit and one of them prepared for dancing. The 
wife of the General had put off her party. An atmos- 


phere of consternation pervaded the place. But the 
General's own room, with heavy sombre hangings, two 
massive desks, and deep armchairs, had all the lights 
turned on. The footman shut the door behind them 
and they waited. 

There was a coal fire in an English grate ; Razumov 
had never before seen such a fire ; and the silence of the 
room was like the silence of the grave ; perfect, measure- 
less, for even the clock on the mantelpiece made no 
sound. Filling a corner, on a black pedestal, stood a 
quarter-life-size smooth-limbed bronze of an adolescent 
figure, running. The Prince observed in an undertone — 

" Spontini's. ' Flight of Youth.' Exquisite." 

" Admirable," assented Razumov faintly. 

They said nothing more after this, the Prince silent 
with his grand air, Razumov staring at the statue. He 
was worried by a sensation resembling the gnawing of 

He did not turn when he heard an inner door fly 
open, and a quick footstep, muffled on the carpet. 

The Prince's voice immediately exclaimed, thick with 
excitement — 

" We have got him — ce miserable. A worthy young 
man came to me No ! It's incredible, . . ." 

Razumov held his breath before the bronze as if 
expecting a crash. Behind his back a voice he had 
never heard before insisted politely — 

" Assejez-voics done." 

The Prince almost shrieked, '^ Mais comprenez-vous, 
mon cher ! Lassassiti ! the murderer — we have got 
him. . . ." 

Razumov spun round. The General's smooth big 
cheeks rested on the stiff collar of his uniform. He 
must have been already looking at Razumov, because 
that last saw the pale blue eyes fastened on him coldly. 


The Prince from a chair waved an impressive hand. 

" This is a most honourable young man whom 
Providence itself . . . Mr. Razumov." 

The General acknowledged the introduction by 
frowning at Razumov, who did not make the slightest 

Sitting down before his desk the General listened 
with compressed lips. It was impossible to detect any 
sign of emotion on his face. 

Razumov watched the immobility of the fleshy 
profile. But it lasted only a moment, till the Prince 
had finished ; and when the General turned to the 
providential young man, his florid complexion, the 
blue, unbelieving eyes and the bright white flash of an 
automatic smile had an air of jovial, careless cruelty. 
He expressed no wonder at the extraordinary story — 
no pleasure or excitement — no incredulity either. He 
betrayed no sentiment whatever. Only with a polite- 
ness almost deferential suggested that " the bird might 
have flown while Mr. — Mr. Razumov was running about 
the streets." 

Razumov advanced to the middle of the room and 
said, " The door is locked and I have the key in my 

His loathing for the man was intense. It had 
come upon him so unawares that he felt he had not 
kept it out of his voice. The General looked up at 
him thoughtfully, and Razumov grinned. 

All this went over the head of Prince K seated 

in a deep armchair, very tired and impatient. 

" A student called Haldin," said the General thought- 

Razumov ceased to grin. 

" That is his name," he said unnecessarily loud. 
" Victor Victorovitch Haldin — a student." 


The General shifted his position a little. 
" How is he dressed ? Would you have the good- 
ness to tell me ? " 

Razumov angrily described Haldin's clothing in a 
few jerky words. The General stared all the time, then 
addressing the Prince — 

" We were not without some indications," he said 
in French. " A good woman who was in the street 
described to us somebody wearing a dress of the sort 
as the thrower of the second bomb. We have detained 
her at the Secretariat, and every one in a Tcherkess 
coat we could lay our hands on has been brought to 
her to look at. She kept on crossing herself and 
shaking her head at them. It was exasperating. . . ." 

He turned to Razumov, and in Russian, with friendly 
reproach — 

" Take a chair, Mr. Razumov — do. Why are you 
standing? " 

Razumov sat down carelessly and looked at the 

" This goggle-eyed imbecile understands nothing," 
he thought. 

The Prince began to speak loftily. 

" Mr. Razumov is a young man of conspicuous 
abilities. I have it at heart that his future should 
not. . . ." 

" Certainly," interrupted the General, with a move- 
ment of the hand. " Has he any weapons on him, do 
you think, Mr. Razumov ? " 

The General employed a gentle musical voice. 
Razumov answered with suppressed irritation — 

" No. But my razors are lying about — you under- 

The General lowered his head approvingly. 

" Precisely." 


Then to the Prince, explaming courteously — ■ 

" We want that bird alive. It will be the devil if 
we can't make him sing a little before we are done with 

The grave-like silence of the room with its mute 
clock fell upon the polite modulations of this terrible 
phrase. The Prince, hidden in the chair, made no sound. 

The General unexpectedly developed a thought. 

" Fidelity to menaced institutions on which depend 
the safety of a throne and of a people is no child's 
play. We know that, mon Prince, and — tenez — " he 
went on with a sort of flattering harshness, " Mr. Razumov 
here begins to understand that too." 

His eyes which he turned upon Razumov seemed 
to be starting out of his head. This grotesqueness of 
aspect no longer shocked Razumov. He said with 
gloomy conviction — 

" Haldin will never speak." 

" That remains to be seen," muttered the General. 

" I am certain," insisted Razumov. " A man like 
this never speaks. ... Do you imagine that I am here 
from fear ? " he added violently. He felt ready to stand 
by his opinion of Haldin to the last extremity. 

"Certainly not," protested the General, with great 
simplicity of tone. "And I don't mind telling you, 
Mr. Razumov, that if he had not come with his tale to 
such a staunch and loyal Russian as you, he would 
have disappeared like a stone in the water . . . which 
would have had a detestable effect," he added, with a 
bright, cruel smile under his stony stare. " So you see, 
there can be no suspicion of any fear here." 

The Prince intervened, looking at Razumov round 
the back of the armchair. 

" Nobody doubts the moral soundness of your action. 
Be at ease in that respect, pray." 


He turned to the General uneasily. 

" That's why I am here. You may be surprised why 
I should ..." 

The General hastened to interrupt. 

" Not at all. Extremely natural. You saw the 
importance . . ." 

" Yes," broke in the Prince. " And I venture to ask 
insistently that mine and Mr. Razumov's intervention 
should not become public. He is a young man of 
promise — of remarkable aptitudes." 

" I haven't a doubt of it," murmured the General. 
" He inspires confidence." 

" All sorts of pernicious views are so widespread 
nowadays — they taint such unexpected quarters — that, 
monstrous as it seems, he might suffer. . . . His 
studies. . . . His . . ." 

The General, with his elbows on the desk, took his 
head between his hands. 

" Yes. Yes. I am thinking it out. . . . How long 
is it since you left him at your rooms, Mr. Razumov ? " 

Razumov mentioned the hour which nearly corre- 
sponded with the time of his distracted flight from the 
big slum house. He had made up his mind to keep 
Ziemianitch out of the affair completely. To mention 
him at all would mean imprisonment for the " bright 
soul," perhaps cruel floggings, and in the end a journey 
to Siberia in chains. Razumov, who had beaten 
Ziemianitch, felt for him now a vague, remorseful 

The General, giving way for the first time to his 
secret sentiments, exclaimed contemptuously — 

" And you say he came in to make you this con- 
fidence like this — for nothing — a pj-opos des bottes." 

Razumov felt danger in the air. The merciless 
suspicion of despotism had spoken openly at last 


Sudden fear sealed Razumov's lips. The silence of 
the room resembled now the silence of a deep dungeon, 
where time does not count, and a suspect person is 
sometimes forgotten for ever. But the Prince came 
to the rescue. 

" Providence itself has led the wretch in a moment 
of mental aberration to seek Mr. Razumov on the 
strength of some old, utterly misinterpreted exchange 
of ideas — some sort of idle speculative conversation — 
months ago — I am told — and completely forgotten till 
now by Mr. Razumov." 

" Mr. Razumov," queried the General meditatively, 
after a short silence, " do you often indulge in specu- 
lative conversation ? " 

" No, Excellency," answered Razumov, coolly, in a 
sudden access of self-confidence. " I am a man of deep 
convictions. Crude opinions are in the air. They are 
not always worth combating. But even the silent 
contempt of a serious mind may be misinterpreted by 
headlong utopists." 

The General stared from between his hands. Prince 
K murmured — 

" A serious young man. Un esprit superieur." 

" I see that, mon cher Prince," said the General. 
" Mr. Razumov is quite safe with me. I am interested 
in him. He has, it seems, the great and useful quality 
of inspiring confidence. What I was wondering at is 
why the other should mention anything at all — I mean 
even the bare fact alone — if his object was only to 
obtain temporary shelter for a few hours. For, after all, 
nothing was easier than to say nothing about it unless, 
indeed, he were trying, under a crazy misapprehension of 
your true sentiments, to enlist your assistance — eh, Mr. 
Razumov ? " 

It seemed to Razumov that the floor was moving 


slightly. This grotesque man in a tight uniform was 
terrible. It was right that he should be terrible. 

" I can see what your Excellency has in your mind. 
But I can only answer that I don't know why." 

" I have nothing in my mind," murmured the General, 
with gentle surprise. 

" I am his prey — his helpless prey," thought Razu- 
mov. The fatigues and the disgusts of that afternoon, 
the need to forget, the fear which he could not keep off, 
reawakened his hate for Haldin. 

" Then I can't help your Excellency. I don't know 
what he meant. I only know there was a moment when 
I wished to kill him. There was also a moment when 
I wished myself dead. I said nothing. I was over- 
come. I provoked no confidence — I asked for no 

explanations " 

Razumov seemed beside himself; but his mind was 
lucid. It was really a calculated outburst. 

" It is rather a pity," the General said, " that you did 
not. Don't you know at all what he means to do ? " 
Razumov calmed down and saw an opening there. 
" He told me he was in hopes that a sledge would 
meet him about half an hour after midnight at the 
seventh lamp-post on the left from the upper end of 
Karabelnaya. At any rate, he meant to be there at 
that time. He did not even ask me for a change of 

" All voila \ " said the General, turning to Prince K 

with an air of satisfaction. " There is a way to keep 
yowr protig^, Mr. Razumov, quite clear of any connexion 
with the actual arrest. We shall be ready for that 
gentleman in Karabelnaya." 

The Prince expressed his gratitude. There was real 
emotion in his voice. Razumov, motionless, silent, sat 
staring at the carpet. The General turned to him. 


" Half an hour after midnight. Till then we have to 
depend on you, Mr. Razumov. You don't think he is 
likely to change his purpose ? " 

" How can I tell ? " said Razumov. " Those men are 
not of the sort that ever changes its purpose." 

" What men do you mean ? " 

" Fanatical lovers of liberty in general. Liberty with 
a capital L, Excellency. Liberty that means nothing 
precise. Liberty in whose name crimes are committed." 

The General murmured — 

" I detest rebels of every kind. I can't help it. It's 
my nature ! " 

He clenched a fist and shook it, drawing back his 
arm. " They shall be destroyed, then." 

" They have made a sacrifice of their lives before- 
hand," said Razumov with malicious pleasure and looking 
the General straight in the face. " If Haldin does change 
his purpose to-night, you may depend on it that it will 
not be to save his life by flight in some other way. He 
would have thought then of something else to attempt. 
But that is not likely." 

The General repeated as if to himself, " They shall 
be destroyed." 

Razumov assumed an impenetrable expression. 

The Prince exclaimed — 

" What a terrible necessity ! " 

The General's arm was lowered slowly. 

" One comfort there is. That brood leaves no pos- 
terity. I've always said it ; one effort, pitiless, persistent, 
steady — and we are done with them for ever." 

Razumov thought to himself that this man entrusted 
with so much arbitrary power must have believed what 
he said or else he could not have gone on bearing the 

The General repeated again with extreme animosity — 


" I detest rebels. These subversive minds ! These 
intellectual debauches ! My existence has been built on 
fidelity. It's a feeling. To defend it I am ready to lay 
down my life — and even my honour — if that were 
needed. But pray tell me what honour can there be as 
against rebels — against people that deny God Himself 
— perfect unbelievers 1 Brutes. It is horrible to think 

During this tirade Razumov, facing the General, had 

nodded slightly twice. Prince K , standing on one 

side with his grand air, murmured, casting up his eyes — 

<' Helas ! " 

Then lowering his glance and with great decision 
declared — 

" This young man, General, is perfectly fit to appre- 
hend the bearing of your memorable words." 

The General's whole expression changed from dull 
resentment to perfect urbanity. 

" I would ask now, Mr. Razumov," he said, " to 
return to his home. Note that I don't ask Mr. Razumov 
whether he has justified his absence to his guest. No 
doubt he did this sufficiently. But I don't ask. Mr. 
Razumov inspires confidence. It is a great gift. I only 
suggest that a more prolonged absence might awaken the 
criminal's suspicions and induce him perhaps to change 
his plans." 

He rose and with a scrupulous courtesy escorted his 
visitors to the ante-room encumbered with flower-pots. 

Razumov parted with the Prince at the corner of a 
street. In the carriage he had listened to speeches where 
natural sentiment struggled with caution. Evidently the 
Prince was afraid of encouraging any hopes of future 
intercourse. But there was a touch of tenderness in the 
voice uttering in the dark the guarded general phrases of 
goodwill. And the Prince too said — 


" I have perfect confidence in you, Mr. Razumov." 

" They all, it seems, have confidence in me," thought 
Razumov dully. He had an indulgent contempt for the 
man sitting shoulder to shoulder with him in the confined 
space. Probably he was afraid of scenes with his wife. 
She was said to be proud and violent. 

It seemed to him bizarre that secrecy should play 
such a large part in the comfort and safety of lives. But 
he wanted to put the Prince's mind at ease ; and with a 
proper amount of emphasis he said that, being conscious 
of some small abilities and confident in his power of 
work, he trusted his future to his own exertions. He 
expressed his gratitude for the helping hand. Such 
dangerous situations did not occur twice in the course of 
one life — he added, 

" And you have met this one with a firmness of mind 
and correctness of feeling which give me a high idea of 
your worth," the Prince said solemnly, " You have now 
only to persevere — to persevere," 

On getting out on the pavement Razumov saw an 
ungloved hand extended to him through the lowered 
window of the brougham. It detained his own in its 
grasp for a moment, while the light of a street lamp fell 
upon the Prince's long face and old-fashioned grey 

" I hope you are perfectly reassured now as to the 
consequences. ..." 

" After what your Excellency has condescended to 
do for me, I can only rely on my conscience." 

" Adieu" said the whiskered head with feeling. 

Razumov bowed. The brougham glided away with a 
slight swish in the snow — -he was alone on the edge of 
the pavement. 

He said to himself that there was nothing to think 
about, and began walking towards his home. 


He walked quietly. It was a common experience to 
walk thus home to bed after an evening spent somewhere 
with his fellows or in the cheaper seats of a theatre. After 
he had gone a little way the familiarity of things got hold 
of him. Nothing was changed. There was the familiar 
corner ; and when he turned it he saw the familiar dim 
light of the provision shop kept by a German woman. 
There were loaves of stale bread, bunches of onions and 
strings of sausages behind the small window-panes. They 
were closing it. The sickly lame fellow whom he knew 
so well by sight staggered out into the snow embracing 
a large shutter. 

Nothing would change. There was the familiar 
gateway yawning black with feeble glimmers marking 
the arches of the different staircases. 

The sense of life's continuity depended on trifling 
bodily impressions. The trivialities of daily existence 
were an armour for the soul. And this thought rein- 
forced the inward quietness of Razumov as he began to 
climb the stairs familiar to his feet in the dark, with his 
hand on the familiar clammy banister. The exceptional 
could not prevail against the material contacts which make 
one day resemble another. To-morrow would be like 

It was only on the stage that the unusual was out- 
wardly acknowledged. 

" I suppose," thought Razumov, " that if I had made 
up my mind to blow out my brains on the landing I 
would be going up these stairs as quietly as I am doing 
it now. What's a man to do? What must be must be. 
Extraordinary things do happen. But when they have 
happened they are done with. Thus, too, when the mind 
is made up. That question is done with. And the daily 
concerns, the familiarities of our thought swallow it up — 
and the life goes on as before with its mysterious and 


secret sides quite out of sight, as they should be. Life 
is a public thing." 

Razumov unlocked his door and took the key out ; 
entered very quietly and bolted the door behind him 

He thought, " He hears me," and after bolting the 
door he stood still holding his breath. There was not 
a sound. He crossed the bare outer room, stepping 
deliberately in the darkness. Entering the other, he 
felt all over his table for the matchbox. The silence, 
but for the groping of his hand, was profound. Could 
the fellow be sleeping so soundly ? 

He struck a light and looked at the bed. Haldin 
was lying on his back as before, only both his hands 
were under his head. His eyes were open. He stared 
at the ceiling. 

Razumov held the match up. He saw the clear-cut 
features, the firm chin, the white forehead and the top- 
knot of fair hair against the white pillow. There he was, 
lying flat on his back. Razumov thought suddenly, " I 
have walked over his chest." 

He continued to stare till the match burnt itself out ; 
then struck another and lit the lamp in silence without 
looking towards the bed any more. He had turned his 
back on it and was hanging his coat on a peg when he 
heard Haldin sigh profoundly, then ask in a tired 
voice — 

" Well ! And what have you arranged ? " 

The emotion was so great that Razumov was glad to 
put his hands against the wall. A diabolical impulse to 
say, " I have given you up to the police," frightened him 
exceedingly. But he did not say that. He said, with- 
out turning round, in a muffled voice — 

" It's done." 

Again he heard Haldin sigh. He walked to the 


table, sat down with the lamp before him, and only then 
looked towards the bed. 

In the distant corner of the large room far away from 
the lamp, which was small and provided with a very thick 
china shade, Haldin appeared like a dark and elongated 
shape — rigid with the immobility of death. This body 
seemed to have less substance than its own phantom 
walked over by Razumov in the street white with snow. 
It was more alarming in its shadowy, persistent reality 
than the distinct but vanishing illusion. 

Haldin was heard again. 

" You must have had a walk — such a walk . . ." he 
murmured^depj:.ecatiagly. " This weather , . ." 

Razumov answered with energy — 

" Horrible walk. ... A nightmare of a walk." 

He shuddered audibly. Haldin sighed once more, 
then — 

" And so you have seen Ziemianitch — brother ? " 

" I've seen him." 

Razumov, remembering the time he had spent with 
the Prince, thought it prudent to add, " I had to wait 
some time." 

" A character — eh ? It's extraordinary what a sense 
of the necessity of freedom there is in that man. And 
he has sayings too — simple, to the point, such as only 
the people can invent in their rough sagacity. A 
character that . . ." 

" I, you understand, haven't had much opportun- 
ity . . ." Razumov muttered through his teeth. 

Haldin continued to stare at the ceiling, 

" You see, brother, I have been a good deal in that 
house of late. I used to take there books — leaflets. 
Not a few of the poor people who live there can read. 
And, you see, the guests for the feast of freedom must 
be sought for in byways and hedges. The truth is, 


I have almost lived in that house of late. I slept some- 
times in the stable. There is a stable . . ." 

" That's where I had my interview with Ziemianitch," 
interrupted Razumov gently. A mocking spirit entered 
into him and he added, "It was satisfactory in a sense. 
I came away from it much relieved." 

" Ah ! he's a fellow," went on Haldin, talking slowly 
at the ceiling. " I came to know him in that way, you 
see. For some weeks now, ever since I resigned myself 
to do what had to be done, I tried to isolate myself 
I gave up my rooms. What was the good of exposing 
a decent widow woman to the risk of being worried 
out of her mind by the police? I gave up seeing 
any of our comrades . . ." 

Razumov drew to himself a half-sheet of paper and 
began to trace lines on it with a pencil. 

" Upon my word," he thought angrily, " he seems 
to have thought of everybody's safety but mine." 

Haldin was talking on. 

" This morning — ah ! this morning — that was 
different. How can I explain to you ? Before the 
deed was done I wandered at night and lay hid in the 
day, thinking it out, and I felt restful. Sleepless but 
restful. What was there for me to torment myself 
about ? But this morning — after ! Then it was that 
I became restless. I could not have stopped in that 
big house full of misery. The miserable of this world 
can't give you peace. Then when that silly caretaker 
began to shout, I said to myself, ' There is a young 
man in this town head and shoulders above common 
prejudices.' " 

"Is he laughing at me?" Razumov asked himself, 
going on with his aimless drawing of triangles and 
squares. And suddenly he thought : " My behaviour 
must appear to him strange. Should he take fright 



at my manner and rush off somewhere I shall be undone 
completely. That infernal General ..." 

He dropped the pencil and turned abruptly towards 
the bed with the shadowy figure extended full length 
on it — so much more indistinct than the one over 
whose breast he had walked without faltering. Was 
this, too, a phantom ? 

The silence had lasted a long time. " He is no 
longer here," was the thought against which Razumov 
struggled desperately, quite frightened at its absurdity. 
" He is already gone and this . . . only . . ." 

He could resist no longer. He sprang to his feet, 
saying aloud, " I am intolerably anxious,"_Jand in a few 
headlong strides stood by the side oFthe bed. His 
hand fell lightly on Haldin's shoulder, and directly 
he felt its reality he was beset by an insane temptation 
to grip that exposed throat and squeeze the breath 
out of that body, lest it should escape his custody, 
leaving only a phantom behind. 

Haldin did not stir a limb, but his overshadowed 
eyes moving a little gazed upwards at Razumov with 
wistful gratitude for this manifestation of feeling. 

Razumov turned away and strode up and down the 
room. " It would have been possibly a kindness," he 
muttered to himself, and was appalled by the nature 
of that apology for a murderous intention his mind had 
found somewhere within him. And all the same he 
could not give it up. He became lucid about it. 
" What can he expect ? " he thought. " The halter — in 
the end. And I . . ." 

This argument was interrupted by Haldin's voice. 

" Why be anxious for me ? They can kill my body, 
but they cannot exile my soul from this world. I tell 
you what — I believe in this world so much that I 
cannot conceive eternity otherwise than as a very 


long life. That is perhaps the reason I am so ready- 
to die." 

" H'm," muttered Razumov, and biting his lower lip 
he continued to walk up and down and to carry on his 
strange argument. 

Yes, to a man in such a situation — of course it 
would be an act of kindness. The question, however, 
was not how to be kind, but how to be firm. He was 
a slippery customer , . . 

" I too, Victor Victorovitch, believe in this world of 
ours," he said with force. " I too, while I live. . . . But 
you seem determined to haunt it You can't seriously 
mean . . ." 

The voice of the motionless Haldin began — 

" Haunt it ! Truly, the oppressors of thought which 
quickens the world, the destroyers of souls which aspire 
to perfection of human dignity, they shall be haunted. 
As to the destroyers of my mere body, I have forgiven 
them beforehand." 

Razumov had stopped apparently to listen, but at 
the same time he was observing his own sensations, He 
was vexed with himself for attaching so much importance 
to what Haldin said. 

"The fellow's mad," he thought firmly, but this 
opinion did not mollify him towards Haldin. It was a 
particularly impudent form of lunacy — and when it got 
loose in the sphere of public life of a country, it was 
obviously the duty of every good citizen . . . 

This train of thought broke off short there and was 
succeeded by a paroxysm of silent hatred towards 
Haldin, so intense that Razumov hastened to speak 
at random. 

" Yes. Eternity, of course. I, too, can't very well 
preresent it to myself ... I imagine it, however, as 
something quiet and dull. There would be nothing 


unexpected — don't you see ? The element of time would 
be wanting." 

He pulled out his watch and gazed at it. Haldin 
turned over on his side and looked on intently. 

Razumov got frightened at this movement. A 
slippery customer this fellow with a phantom. It was 
not midnight yet. He hastened on — 

" And unfathomable mysteries ! Can you conceive 
secret places in Eternity ? Impossible. Whereas life is 
full of them. There are secrets of birth, for instance. 
One carries them on to the grave. There is something 
comical . , . but never mind. And there are secret 
motives of conduct. A man's most open actions have a 
secret side to them. That is interesting and so un- 
fathomable ! For instance, a man goes out of a room 
for a walk. Nothing more trivial in appearance. And 
yet it may be momentous. He comes back — he has 
seen perhaps a drunken brute, taken particular notice of 
the snow on the ground — and behold he is no longer the 
same man. The most unlikely things have a secret 
power over one's thoughts — the grey whiskers of a 
particular person — the goggle eyes of another." 

Razumov's forehead was moist. He took a turn or two 
in the room, his head low and smiling to himself viciously. 

" Have you ever reflected on the power of goggle 
eyes and grey whiskers ? Excuse me. You seem to 
think I must be crazy to talk in this vein at such a time. 
But I am not talking lightly. I have seen instances. 
It has happened to me once to be talking to a man 
whose fate was affected by physical facts of that kind. 
And the man did not know it. Of course, it was a case 
of conscience, but the material facts such as these 
brought about the solution. . . . And you tell me, 
Victor Victorovitch, not to be anxious ! Why ! I am 
responsible for you," Razumov almost shrieked. 


He avoided with difficulty a burst of Mephistophelian 
laughter. Haldin, very pale, raised himself on his elbow. 

" And the surprises of life," went on Razumov, after 
glancing at the other uneasily. " Just consider their 
astonishing nature. A mysterious impulse induces you 
to come here. I don't say you have done wrong. 
Indeed, from a certain point of view you could not have 
done better. You might have gone to a man with 
affections and family ties. You have such ties yourself. 
As to me, you know I have been brought up in an 
educational institute where they did not give us enough 
to eat. To talk of affection in such a connexion — you 
perceive yourself. ... As to ties, the only ties I have 
in the world are social, I must get acknowledged in 
some way before I can act at all. I sit here working. . . , 
And don't you think I am working for progress too ? I've 
got to find my own ideas of the true way. . . . Pardon 
me," continued Razumov, after drawing breath and with 
a short, throaty laugh, " but I haven't inherited a revolu- 
tionary inspiration together with a resemblance from an 

He looked again at his watch and noticed with 
sickening disgust that there were yet a good many 
minutes to midnight. He tore watch and chain off his 
waistcoat and laid them on the table well in the circle 
of bright lamplight. Haldin, reclining on his elbow, did 
not stir. Razumov was made uneasy by this attitude. 
"What move is he meditating over so quietly?" he 
thought. " He must be prevented. I must keep on 
talking to him." 

He raised his voice. 

" You are a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin — 1 
don't know what — to no end of people. I am just a 
man. Here I stand before you. A man with a mind. 
Did it ever occur to you how a man who had never 


heard a word of warm affection or praise in his life would 
think on matters on which you would think first with or 
against your class, your domestic tradition — your fireside 
prejudices ? . , . Did you ever consider how a man like 
that would feel ? I have no domestic tradition. I have 
nothing to think against. My tradition is historical. 
What have I to look back to but that national past from 
which you gentlemen want to wrench away your future ? 
Am I to let my intelligence, my aspirations towards a 
better lot, be robbed of the only thing it has to go upon 
at the will of violent enthusiasts ? You come from your 
province, but all this land is mine — or I have nothing. 
No doubt you shall be looked upon as a martyr some day 
— a sort of hero — a political saint. But I beg to be 
excused. I am content in fitting myself to be a worker. 
And what can you people do by scattering a few drops 
of blood on the snow? On this Immensity. On this 
unhappy. Immensity ! I tell you," he cried, in a vibrating, 
subdued voice, and advancing one step nearer the bed, 
" that what it needs is not a lot of haunting phantoms 
that I could walk through — but a man ! " 

Haldin threw his arms forward as if to keep him off 
in horror. 

" I understand it all now," he exclaimed, with awe- 
struck dismay. " I understand — at last." 

Razumov staggered back against the table. His 
forehead broke out in perspiration while a cold shudder 
ran down his spine. 

" What have I been saying ? " he asked himself. 
" Have I let him slip through my fingers after all ? " 

He felt his lips go stiff like buckram, and instead of 
a reassuring smile only achieved an uncertain grimace. 

" What will you have ? " he began in a conciliating 
voice which got steady after the first trembling word or 
two. "What will you have? Consider — a man of 


\ /(A^ A^ \ ! [yjS 


studious, retired habits — and suddenly like this, ... I 
am not practised in talking delicately. But , . ." 

He felt anger, a wicked anger, get hold of him again. 

" What were we to do together till midnight ? Sit 
here opposite each other and think of your — your — 
shambles ? " 

Haldin had a subdued, heartbroken attitude. He 
bowed his head ; his hands hung between his knees. 
His voice was low and pained but calm. 

" I see now how it is, Razumov — brother. You are 
a magnanimous soul, but my action is abhorrent to 
you — alas . . ." 

Razumov stared. From fright he had set his teeth 
so hard that his whole face ached. It was impossible for 
him to make a sound. 

" And even my person, too, is loathsome to you 
perhaps," Haldin added mournfully, after a short pause, 
looking up for a moment, then fixing his gaze on the 
floor. " For indeed, unless one . . ." 

He broke off, evidently waiting for a word. Razumov 
remained silent, Haldin nodded his head dejectedly 

*" Of course. Of course," he murmured. . . . "Ah! 
weary work ! " 

He remained perfectly still for a moment, then made 
Razumov's leaden heart strike a ponderous blow by 
springing up briskly. 

" So be it," he cried sadly in a low, distinct tone. 
" Farewell then," 

Razumov started forward, but the sight of Haldin's 
raised hand checked him before he could get away from 
the table. He leaned on it heavily, listening to the 
faint sounds of some town clock tolling the hour. Haldin, 
already at the door, tall and straight as an arrow, with 
his pale face and a hand raised attentively, might have 


posed for the statue of a daring youth listening to an 
inner voice. Razumov mechanically glanced down at his 
watch. When he looked towards the door again Haldin 
had vanished. There was a faint rustling in the outer 
room, the feeble click of a bolt drawn back lightly. He 
was gone — almost as noiseless as a vision. 

Razumov ran forward unsteadily, with parted, voice- 
less lips. The outer door stood open. Staggering out 
on the landing, he leaned far over the banister. Gazing 
down into the deep black shaft with a tiny glimmering 
flame at the bottom, he traced by ear the rapid spiral 
descent of somebody running down the stairs on tiptoe. 
It was a light, swift, pattering sound, which sank away 
from him into the depths : a fleeting shadow passed over 
the glimmer — a wink of the tiny flame. Then stillness. 

Razumov hung over, breathing the cold raw air 
tainted by the evil smells of the unclean staircase. All 

He went back into his room slowly, shutting the 
doors after him. The peaceful steady light of his 
reading-lamp shone on the watch. Razumov stood 
looking down at the little white dial. It wanted yet 
three minutes to midnight. He took the watch into his 
hand fumblingly. 

" Slow," he muttered, and a strange fit of nerveless- 
ness came over him. His knees shook, the watch and 
chain slipped through his fingers in an instant and fell 
on the floor. He was so startled that he nearly fell 
himself. When at last he regained enough confidence 
in his limbs to stoop for it he held it to his ear at once. 
After a while he growled — 

" Stopped," and paused for quite a long time before 
he muttered sourly — 

" It's done. . . . And now to work." 

He sat down, reached haphazard for a book, opened 


it in the middle and began to read ; but after going 
conscientiously over two lines he lost his hold on the print 
completely and did not try to regain it. He thought — 

" There ,^icas to a certainty a police agent of some 
sort watching the house across the street." 

He imagined him lurking in a dark gateway, goggle- 
eyed, muffled up in a cloak to the nose and with a 
General's plumed, cocked hat on his head. This ab- 
surdity made him start in the chair convulsively. He 
literally had to shake his head violently to get rid of it. 
The man would be disguised perhaps as a peasant . . . 
a beggar. . . . Perhaps he would be just buttoned up 
in a dark overcoat and carrying a loaded stick — a shifty- 
eyed rascal, smelling of raw onions and spirits. 

This evocation brought on positive nausea. " Why 
do I want to bother about this ? " thought Razumov with 
disgust. "Am I a gendarme? Moreover, it is done." 

He got up in great agitation. It was not done. Not 
yet. Not till half-past twelve. And the watch had 
stopped. This reduced him to despair. Impossible to 
know the time ! The landlady and all the people across 
the landing were asleep. How could he go and . . . 
God knows what they would imagine, or how much they 
would guess. He dared not go into the streets to find 
out. " I am a suspect now. There's no use shirking 
that fact," he said to himself bitterly. If Haldin from 
some cause or another gave them the slip and failed to 
turn up in the Karabelnaya the police would be invading 
his lodging. And if he were not in he could never clear 
himself Never. Razumov looked wildly about as if 
for some means of seizing upon time which seemed to 
have escaped him altogether. He had never, as far as 
he could remember, heard the striking of that town clock 
in his rooms before this night. And he was not even 
sure now whether he had heard it really on this night. 


He went to the window and stood there with slightly 
bent head on the watch for the faint sound. *' I will 
stay here till I hear something," he said to himself. He 
stood still, his ear turned to the panes. An atrocious 
aching numbness with shooting pains in his back and 
legs tortured him. He did not budge. His mind 
hovered on the borders of delirium. He heard himself 
suddenly saying, " I confess," as a person might do on 
the rack. " I am on the rack," he thought. He felt 
ready to swoon. The faint deep boom of the distant 
clock seemed to explode in his head — he heard it so 
clearly. . . . One ! 

If Haldin had not turned up the police would have 
been already here ransacking the house. No sound 
reached him. This time it was done. 

He dragged himself painfully to the table and dropped 
into the chair. He flung the book away and took a 
square sheet of paper. It was like the pile of sheets 
covered with his neat minute handwriting, only blank. 
He took a pen brusquely and dipped it with a vague 
notion of going on with the writing of his essay — but his 
pen remained poised over the sheet. It hung there for 
some time before it came down and formed long scrawly 

Still-faced and his lips set hard, Razumov began to 
write. When he wrote a large hand his neat writing lost 
its character altogether — became unsteady, almost child- 
ish. He wrote fiv^e lines one under the other. 

History not Theory. • 

Patriotism not Internationalism. 
Evolution not Revolution. 
Direction not Destruction. 
Unity not Disruption. 

He gazed at them dully. Then his eyes strayed to 
the bed and remained fixed there for a good many 


minutes, while his right hand groped all over the table 
for the penknife. 

He rose at last, and walking up with measured steps 
stabbed the paper with the penknife to the lath and 
plaster wall at the head of the bed. This done he stepped 
back a pace and flourished his hand with a glance round 
the room. 

After that he never looked again at the bed. He 
took his big cloak down from its peg and, wrapping him- 
self up closely, went to lie down on the hard horse-hair 
sofa at the other side of his room. A leaden sleep closed 
his eyelids at once. Several times that night he woke 
up shivering from a dream of walking through drifts of 
snow in a Russia where he was as completely alone as 
any betrayed autocrat could be ; an immense, wintry 
Russia which, somehow, his view could embrace in all its 
enormous expanse as if it were a map. But after each 
shuddering start his heavy eyelids fell over his glazed 
eyes and he slept again. 


Approaching this part of Mr. Razumov's story, my 
mind, the decent mind of an old teacher of languages, 
feels more and more the difficulty of the task. 

The task is not in truth the writing in the narrative 
form a precis of a strange human document, but the 
rendering — I perceive it now clearly — of the moral con- 
ditions ruling over a large portion of this earth's surface ; 
conditions not easily to be understood, much less dis- 
covered in the limits of a story, till some key-word is 
found ; a word that could stand at the back of all the 
words covering the pages ; a word which, if not truth 
itself, may perchance hold truth enough to help the moral 
discovery which should be the object of every tale. 


I turn over for the hundredth time the leaves of Mr. 
Razumov's record, I lay it aside, I take up the pen — and 
the pen being ready for its office of setting down black 
on white I hesitate. For the word that persists in 
creeping under its point is no other word than 
" c yni cism." 

For that is the mark of Russian autocracy and of 
Russian revolt. In its pride of numbers, in its strange 
pretensions of sanctity, and in the secret readiness to 
abase itself in suffering, the spirit of Russia is the spirit 
of cynicism. It informs the declarations of her states- 
men, the theories of her revolutionists, and the mystic 
vaticinations of prophets to the point of making freedom 
look like a form of debauch, and the Christian virtues 
themselves appear actually indecent. . . . But I must 
apologize for the digression. It proceeds from the consider- 
ation of the course taken by the story of Mr. Razumov 
after his conservative convictions, diluted in a vague 
liberalism natural to the ardour of his age, had become 
crystallized by the shock of his contact with Haldin. 

Razumov woke up for the tenth time perhaps with a 
heavy shiver. Seeing the light of day in his window, he 
resisted the inclination to lay himself down again. He 
did not remember anything, but he did not think it 
strange to find himself on the sofa in his cloak and 
chilled to the bone. The light coming through the 
window seemed strangely cheerless, containing no promise 
as the light of each new day should for a young man. 
It was the awakening of a man mortally ill, or of a man 
ninety years old. He looked at the lamp which had 
burnt itself out. It stood there, the extinguished beacon 
of his labours, a cold object of brass and porcelain, 
amongst the scattered pages of his notes and small piles 
of books — a mere litter of blackened paper — dead 
matter — without significance or interest. 


He got on his feet, and divesting himself of his cloak 
hung it on the peg, going through all the motions 
mechanically. An incredible dullness, a ditch-water 
stagnation was sensible to his perceptions as though life 
had withdrawn itself from all things and even from his 
own thoughts. There was not a sound in the house. 

Turning away from the peg, he thought in that same 
lifeless manner that it must be very early yet ; but when 
he looked at the watch on his table he saw both hands 
arrested at twelve o'clock. 

" Ah ! yes," he mumbled to himself, and as if begin- 
ning to get roused a little he took a survey of his room. 
The paper stabbed to the wall arrested his attention. 
He eyed it from the distance without approval or 
perplexity ; but when he heard the servant-girl beginning 
to bustle about in the outer room with the samovar for 
his morning tea, he walked up to it and took it down 
with an air of profound indifference. 

While doing this he glanced down at the bed on 
which he had not slept that night. The hollow in the 
pillow made by the weight of Haldin's head was very 

Even his anger at this sign of the man's passage was 
dull. He did not try to nurse it into life. He did 
nothing all that day ; he neglected even to brush his 
hair. The idea of going out never occurred to him — and 
if he did not start a connected train of thought it was 
not because he was unable to think. It was because he 
was not interested enough. 

He yawned frequently. He drank large quantities 
of tea, he walked about aimlessly, and when he sat down 
he did not budge for a long time. He spent some time 
drumming on the window with his finger-tips quietly. 
In his listless wanderings round about the table he 
caught sight of his own face in the looking-glass and 


that arrested him. The eyes which returned his stare 
were the most unhappy eyes he had ever seen. And this 
was the first thing which disturbed the mental stagnation 
of that day. 

He was not affected personally. He merely thought 
that life without happiness is impossible. What was 
happiness ? He yawned and went on shuffling about 
and about between the walls of his room. Looking 
forward was happiness — that's all — nothing more. To 
look forward to the gratification of some desire, to the 
gratification of some passion, love, ambition, hate — hate 
too indubitably. Love and hate. And to escape the 
dangers of existence, to live without fear, was also 
happiness. There was nothing else. Absence of fear 
— looking forward. " Oh ! the miserable lot of 
humanity ! " he exclaimed mentally ; and added at once 
in his thought, " I ought to be happy enough as far as 
that goes." But he was not excited by that assurance. 
On the contrary, he yawned again as he had been 
yawning all day. He was mildly surprised to dis- 
cover himself being overtaken by night. The room 
grew dark swiftly though time had seemed to stand 
still. How was it that he had not noticed the pass- 
ing of that day ? Of course, it was the watch being 
stopped. . . . 

He did not light his lamp, but went over to the bed 
and threw himself on it without any hesitation. Lying 
on his back, he put his hands under his head and stared 
upward. After a moment he thought, " I am lying 
here like that man. I wonder if he slept while I was 
struggling with the blizzard in the streets. No, he did 
not sleep. But why should I not sleep ? " and he felt 
the silence of the night press upon all his limbs like a 

In the calm of the hard frost outside, the clear-cut 


strokes of the town dock counting off midnight pene- 
trated the quietness of his suspended animation. ^ 
Again he began to think. It was twenty-four hours ' 
since that man left his room. Razumov had a 
distinct feeling that Haldin in the fortress was sleeping 
that night. It was a certitude which made him angry 
because he did not want to think of Haldin, but he 
justified it to himself by physiological and psychological 
reasons. The fellow had hardly slept for weeks on his 
own confession, and now every incertitude was at an 
end for him. No doubt he was looking forward to the 
consummation of his martyrdom. A man who resigns 
himself to kill need not go very far for resignation to 
die. Haldin slept perhaps more soundly than General 

T , whose task — weary work too — was not done, and 

over whose head hung the sword of revolutionary 

Razumov, remembering the thick-set man with his 
heavy jowl resting on the collar of his uniform, the 
champion of autocracy, who had let no sign of surprise, 
incredulity, or joy escape him, but whose goggle eyes 
could express a mortal hatred of all rebellion — Razumov 
moved uneasily on the bed. 

" He suspected me," he thought. " I suppose he 
must suspect everybody. He would be capable of 
suspecting his own wife, if Haldin had gone to her 
boudoir with his confession." 

Razumov sat up in anguish. Was he to remain a 
political suspect all his days? Was he to go through 
life as a man not wholly to be trusted — with a bad 
secret police note tacked on to his record ? What sort 
of future could he look forward to ? 

*' I am now a suspect," he thought again ; but the 
habit of reflection and that desire of safety, of an 
ordered life, which was so strong in him came to his 


assistance as the night wore on. His quiet, steady, and 
laborious existence would vouch at length for his 
loyalty. There were many permitted ways to serve 
one's country. There was an activity that made for 
progress without being revolution ar}^ The lield of 
influence was great and infinitely varied — once one had 
conquered a name. 

His thought like a circling bird reverted after four- 
and-twenty hours to the silver medal, and as it were 
poised itself there. 

When the day broke he had not slept, not for a 
moment, but he got up not very tired and quite 
sufficiently self-possessed for all practical purposes. 

He went out and attended three lectures in the 
morning. But the work in the library was a mere 
dumb show of research. He sat with many volumes 
open before him trying to make notes and extracts. 
His new tranquillity was like a flimsy garment, and 
seemed to float at the mercy of a casual word. 
Betrayal ! Why ! the fellow had done all that was 
necessary to betray himself. Precious little had been 
need ed to deceive him. 

" I have said no word to him that was not strictly 
true. Not one word," Razumov argued with himself. 
'^ Once engaged on this line of thought there could 
be no question of doing useful work. The same ideas 
went on passing through his mind, and he pronounced 
mentally the same words over and over again. He 
shut up all the books and rammed all his papers into 
his pocket with convulsive movements, raging inwardly 
against Haldin. 

As he was leaving the library a long bony student 
in a threadbare overcoat joined him, stepping moodily 
by his side. Razumov answered his mumbled greeting 
without looking at him at all. 


" What does he want with me ? " he thought with a 
strange dread of the unexpected which he tried to shake 
off lest it should fasten itself upon his life for good and 
all. And the other, muttering cautiously with downcast 
eyes, supposed that his comrade had seen the news of 

de P 's executioner — that was the expression he 

used — having been arrested the night before last. . . . 

" I've been ill — shut up in my rooms," Razumov 
mumbled through his teeth. 

The tall student, raising his shoulders, shoved his 
hands deep into his pockets. He had a hairless, square, 
tallowy chin which trembled slightly as he spoke, and 
his nose nipped bright red by the sharp air looked like 
a false nose of painted cardboard between the sallow 
cheeks. His whole appearance was stamped with the 
mark of cold and hunger. He stalked deliberately at 
Razumov's elbow with his eyes on the ground. 

" It's an official statement," he continued in the 
same cautious mutter. "It may be a lie. But there 
was somebody arrested between midnight and one in 
the morning on Tuesday. This is certain." 

And talking rapidly under the cover of his downcast 
air, he told Razumov that this was known through an 
inferior Government clerk employed at the Central 
Secretariat. That man belonged to one of the revolu- 
tionary circles. " The same, in fact, I am affiliated to," 
remarked the student. 

They were crossing a wide quadrangle. An infinite 
distress possessed Razumov, annihilated his energy, and 
before his eyes everything appeared confused and as if 
evanescent. He dared not leave the fellow there. " He 
may be affiliated to the police," was the thought that 
passed through his mind. " Who could tell ? " But 
eyeing the miserable frost-nipped, famine-struck figure of 
his companion he perceived the absurdity of his suspicion. 


" But I — you know — I don't belong to any circle. 
I " 

He dared not say any more. Neither dared he 
mend his pace. The other, raising and setting down 
his lamentably shod feet with exact deliberation, 
protested in a low tone that it was not necessary for 
everybody to belong to an organization. The most 
valuable personalities remained outside. Some of the 
best work was done outside the organization. Then 
very fast, with whispering, feverish lips — 

" The man arrested in the street was Haldin." 

And accepting Razumov's dismayed silence as 
natural enough, he assured him that there was no mistake. 
That Government clerk was on night duty at the 
Secretariat. Hearing a great noise of footsteps in the 
hall and aware that political prisoners were brought 
over sometimes at night from the fortress, he opened the 
door of the room in which he was working, suddenly. 
Before the gendarme on duty could push him back and 
slam the door in his face, he had seen a prisoner being 
partly carried, partly dragged along the hall by a lot of 
policemen. He was being used very brutally. And 
the clerk had recognized Haldin perfectly. Less than 

half an hour afterwards General T arrived at the 

Secretariat to examine that prisoner personally. 

•' Aren't you astonished ? " concluded the gaunt 

" No," said Razumov roughly — and at once regretted 
his answer. 

" Everybody supposed Haldin was in the provinces 

ith his people. Didn't you ? " 

f he student turned his big hollow eyes upon Razumov, 
who said unguardedly — 

" His people arc abroad." 

He could have bitten his tongue out with vcxa- 


tion. The student pronounced in a tone of profound 
meaning — 

" So ! You alone were aware . . ." and stopped. 

" They have sworn my ruin," thought Razumov. 
"Have you spoken of this to anyone else?" he asked 
with bitter curiosity. 

The other shook his head. 

" No, only to you. Our circle thought that as 
Haldin had been often heard expressing a warm apprecia- 
tion of your character . . ." 

Razumov could not restrain a gesture of angry 
despair which the other must have misunderstood in 
some way, because he ceased speaking and turned away 
his black, lack-lustre eyes. 

They moved side by side in silence. Then the 
gaunt student began to whisper again, with averted gaze — 

" As we have at present no one affiliated inside the 
fortress so as to make it possible to furnish him with a 
packet of poison, we have considered already some sort 
of retaliatory action — to follow very soon . . ." 

Razumov trudging on interrupted — 

" Were you acquainted with Haldin ? Did he know 
where you live ? " 

" I had the happiness to hear him speak twice," his 
companion answered in the feverish whisper contrasting 
with the gloomy apathy of his face and bearing. " He 
did not know where I live. ... I am lodging poorly 
. . . with an artisan family. ... I have just a corner 
in a room. It is not very practicable to see me there, 
but if you should need me for anything I am ready. . . ." 

Razumov trembled with rage and fear. He was 
beside himself, but kept his voice low. 

" You are not to come near me. You are not to 
speak to me. Never address a single word to me. I 
forbid you." 


" Very well," said the other submissively, showing 
no surprise whatever at this abrupt prohibition. " You 
don't wish for secret reasons . . . perfectly ... I 

He edged away at once, not looking up even ; and 
Razumov saw his gaunt, shabby, famine-stricken figure 
cross the street obliquely with lowered head and that 
peculiar exact motion of the feet. 

He watched him as one would watch a vision out 
of a nightmare, then he continued on his way, trying 
not to think. On his landing the landlady seemed to 
be waiting for him. She was a short, thick, shapeless 
woman with a large yellow face wrapped up everlastingly 
in a black woollen shawl. When she saw him come up 
the last flight of stairs she flung both her arms up 
excitedly, then clasped her hands before her face. 

" Kirylo Sidorovitch — little father — what have you 
been doing ? And such a quiet young man, too ! The 
police are just gone this moment after searching your 

Razumov gazed down at her with silent, scrutinizing 
attention. Her puffy yellow countenance was working 
with emotion. She screwed up her eyes at him 

" Such a sensible young man ! Anybody can see 
you arc sensible. And now — like this — all at once. 
. . . What is the good of mixing yourself up with 
these Nihilists ? Do give over, little father. They are 
unlucky people." 

Razumov moved his shoulders slightly. 

" Or is it that some secret enemy has been calum- 
niating you, Kirylo Sidorovitch ? The world is full of 
black hearts and false denunciations nowadays. There 
is much fear about." 

" Have you heard that I have been denounced by 


some one ? " asked Razumov, without taking his eyes off 
her quivering face. 

But she had not heard anything. She had tried to 
find out by asking the police captain while his men were 
turning the room upside down. The police captain of 
the district had known her for the last eleven years and 
was a humane person. But he said to her on the 
landing, looking very black and vexed — 

" My good woman, do not ask questions. I don't 
know anything myself. The order comes from higher 

And indeed there had appeared, shortly after the arrival 
of the policemen of the district, a very superior gentle- 
man in a fur coat and a shiny hat, who sat down in the 
room and looked through all the papers himself. He 
came alone and went away by himself, taking nothing 
with him. She had been trying to put things straight a 
little since they left. 

Razumov turned away brusquely and entered his 

All his books had been shaken and thrown on the 
floor. His landlady followed him, and stooping painfully 
began to pick them up into her apron. His papers and 
notes which were kept always neatly sorted (they all 
related to his studies) had been shuffled up and heaped 
together into a ragged pile in the middle of the 

This disorder affected him profoundly, unreasonably. 
He sat down and stared. He had a distinct sensation 
of his very existence being undermined in some 
mysterious manner, of his moral supports falling away 
from him one by one. He even experienced a slight 
physical giddiness and made a movement as if to reach 
for something to steady himself with. 

The old woman, rising to her feet with a low groan, 


shot all the books she had collected in her apron on to 
the sofa and left the room muttering and sighing. 

It was only then that he noticed that the sheet of 
paper which for one night had remained stabbed to the 
wall above his empty bed was lying on top of the pile. 

When he had taken it down the day before he had 
folded it in four, absent-mindedly, before dropping it on 
the table. And now he saw it lying uppermost, spread 
out, smoothed out even and covering all the confused 
pile of pages, the record of his intellectual life for the 
last three years. It had not been flung there. It had 
been placed there — smoothed out, too 1 He guessed in 
that an intention of profound meaning — or perhaps some 
inexplicable mockery. 

He sat staring at the piece of paper till his eyes 
began to smart. He did not attempt to put his papers 
in order, either that evening or the next day — which he 
spent at home in a state of peculiar irresolution. This 
irresolution bore upon the question whether he should 
continue to live — neither more nor less. But its nature 
was very far removed from the hesitation of a man con- 
templating suicide. The idea of laying violent hands 
upon his body did not occur to Razumov. The un- 
related organism bearing that label, walking, breathing, 
wearing these clothes, was of no importance to anyone, 
unless maybe to the landlady. The true Razumov had 
his being in the willed, in the determined future — in 
that future menaced by the lawlessness of autocracy — 
for autocracy knows no law — and the lawlessness of 
revolution. The feeling that his moral personality. M' as 
at the mercy of these lawless forces was so strong that 
he asked himself seriously if it were worth while to go 
on accomplishing the mental functions of that existence 
which seemed no longer his own. 

" What is the good of exerting my intelligence, of 

t6 under western eyes 

pursuing the systematic development of my faculties and 
all my plans of work ? " he asked himself. " I want to 
J guide my conduct by reasonable convictions, but what 
security have I against something — some destructive 
horror — walking in upon me as I sit here ? . . ." 

Razumov looked apprehensively towards the door of 
the outer room as if expecting some shape of evil to turn 
the handle and appear before him silently. 

" A common thief," he said to himself, " finds more 
guarantees in the law he is breaking, and even a brute 
like Ziemianitch has his consolation." Razumov envied 
the materialism of the thief and the passion of the in- 
corrigible lover. The consequences of their actions were 
always clear and their lives remained their own. 

But he slept as soundly that night as though he had 
been consoling himself in the manner of Ziemianitch, 
He dropped off suddenly, lay like a log, remembered 
no dream on waking. But it was as if his soul had 
gone out in the night to gather the flowers of wrathful 
wisdom. He got up in a mood of grim determination 
and as if with a new knowledge of his own nature. 
He looked mockingly on the heap of papers on his 
table ; and left his room to attend the lectures, muttering 
to himself, " We shall see." 

He was in no humour to talk to anybody or hear 
himself questioned as to his absence from lectures the 
day before. But it was difficult to repulse rudely a very 
good comrade with a smooth pink face and fair hair, 
bearing the nickname amongst his fellow-students of 
\ "Madcap Kostia.'^^, He was the idolized only son of a 
'■-js^ery.-AV'ealthy and illiterate Government contractor, and 
attended the lectures only during the periodical fits of 
contrition following upon tearful paternal remonstrances. 
Noisily blundering like a retriever puppy, his elated voice 
and great gestures filled the bare academy corridors with 


the joy of thoughtless animal life, provoking indulgent 
smiles at a great distance. His usual discourses treated 
of trotting horses, wine-parties in expensive restaurants, 
and the merits of persons of easy virtue, with a disarming 
artlessness of outlook. He pounced upon Razumov 
about midday, somewhat less uproariously than his habit 
was, and led him aside, 

" Just a moment, Kirylo Sidorovitch. A few words 
here in this quiet corner." 

He felt Razumov's reluctance, and insinuated his 
hand under his arm caressingly. 

" No — pray do. I don't want to talk to you about 
any of my silly scrapes. What are my scrapes ? 
Absolutely nothing. Mere childishness. The other 
night I flung a fellow out of a certain place where I 
was having a fairly good time. A tyrannical little beast 
of a quill-driver from the Treasury department. . . . 
He was bullying the people of the house. I rebuked 
him. ' You are not behaving humanely to God's 
creatures that are a jolly sight more estimable than 
yourself,' I said. I can't bear to see any tyranny, 
Kirylo Sidorovitch. Upon my word I can't. He didn't 
take it in good part at all. ' Who's that impudent 
puppy ? ' he begins to shout. I was in excellent form 
as it happened, and he went through the closed window 
very suddenly. He flew quite a long way into the 
yard. I raged like — like a — minotaur. The women 
clung to me and screamed, the fiddlers got under the 
table. . . . Such fun ! My dad had to put his hand 
pretty deep into his pocket, I can tell you." 

He chuckled. 

" My dad is a very useful man. Jolly good thing 
it is for me, too. I do get into unholy scrapes." 

His elation fell. That was just it. What was 
his life? Insignificant; no good to anyone; a mere 


festivity. It would end some fine day in his getting 
his skull split with a champagne bottle in a drunken 
brawl. At such times, too, when men were sacrificing 
themselves to ideas. But he could never get any ideas 
into his head. His head wasn't worth anything better 
than to be split by a champagne bottle. 

Razumov, protesting that he had no time, made an 
attempt to get away. The other's tone changed to 
confidential earnestness. 

" For God's sake, Kirylo, my dear soul, let me make 
some sort of sacrifice. It would not be a sacrifice really. 
I have my rich dad behind me. There's positively no 
getting to the bottom of his pocket." 

And rejecting indignantly Razumov's suggestion that 
this was drunken raving, he offered to lend him some 
money to escape abroad with. He could always get 
money from his dad. He had only to say that he had 
lost it at cards or something of that sort, and at the 
same time promise solemnly not to miss a single lecture 
for three months on end. That would fetch the old 
man ; and he, Kostia, was quite equal to the sacrifice. 
Though he really did not see what was the good for 
him to attend the lectures. It was perfectly hopeless. 

" Won't you let me be of some use ? " he pleaded to 
the silent Razumov, who with his eyes on the ground 
and utterly unable to penetrate the real drift of the 
other's intention, felt a strange reluctance to clear up 
the point. 

" What makes you think I want to go abroad ? " he 
asked at last very quietly. 

Kostia lowered his voice. 

" You had the police in your rooms yesterday. 
There are three or four of us who have heard of that. 
Never mind how we know. It is sufficient that wc do. 
So we have been consulting together." 


" Ah ! You got to know that so soon," muttered 
Razumov negligently. 

" Yes. We did. And it struck us that a man like 
you . . ." 

" What sort of a man do you take me to be ? " 
Razumov interrupted him. 

" A man of ideas — and a man of action too. But 
you are very deep, Kirylo. There's no getting to the 
bottom of your mind. Not for fellows like me. But 
we all agreed that you must be preserved for our 
country. Of that we have no doubt whatever — I mean 
all of us who have heard Haldin speak of you on certain 
occasions. A man doesn't get the police ransacking his 
rooms without there being some devilry hanging over his 
head. . . . And so if you think that it would be better 
for you to bolt at once . : ." 

Razumov tore himself away and walked down the 
corridor, leaving the other motionless with his mouth 
open. But almost at once he returned and stood before 
the amazed Kostia, who shut his mouth slowly. 
Razumov looked him straight in the eyes, before saying 
with marked deliberation and separating his words — 

" I thank — you — very — much." 

He went away again rapidly. Kostia, recovering 
from his surprise at these manoeuvres, ran up behind him 

"No! Wait! Listen. I really mean it. It would 
be like giving your compassion to a starving fellow. Do 
you hear, Kirylo ? And any disguise you may think of, 
that too I could procure from a costumier, a Jew I 
know. Let a fool be made serviceable according to his 
folly. Perhaps also a false beard or something of that 
kind may be needed." 

Razumov turned at bay. 

" There are no false beards needed in this business, 


Kostia — you good-hearted lunatic, you. What do you 
know of my ideas ? My ideas may be poison to you." 

The other began to shake his head in energetic 

" What have you got to do with ideas ? Some of 
them would make an end of your dad's money-bags. 
Leave off meddling with what you don't understand. 
Go back to your trotting horses and your girls, and then 
you'll be sure at least of doing no harm to anybody, and 
hardly any to yourself." 

The enthusiastic youth was overcome by this 

" You're sending me back to my pig's trough, Kirylo. 
That settles it. I am an unlucky beast — and I shall die 
like a beast too. But mind — it's your contempt that has 
done for me." 

Razumov went off with long strides. That this 
simple and grossly festive soul should have fallen too 
under the revolutionary curse affected him as an ominous 
symptom of the time. He reproached himself for feeling 
troubled. Personally he ought to have felt reassured. 
There was an obvious advantage in this conspiracy of 
mistaken judgment taking him for what he was not. 
But was it not strange? 

Again he experienced that sensation of his conduct 
being taken out of his hands by Haldin's revolutionary 
tyranny. His solitary and laborious existence had been 
destroyed — the only thing he could call his "own on this 
earth. ■ By what right? he asked himself furiously. In 
what name ? 

What infuriated him most was to feel that the 
"thinkers" of the University were evidently connecting 
him with Haldin — as a sort of confidant in the back- 
ground apparently. A mysterious connexion ! Ha 
ha ! . . . He had been made a personage without 


knowing anything about it. How that wretch Haldin 
must have talked about him ! Yet it was likely that 
Haldin had said very little. The fellow's casual utter- 
ances were caught up and treasured and pondered over 
by all these imbeciles. And was not all secret revolu- 
tionary action based upon folly, self-deception, and lies ? 

" Impossible to think of anything else," muttered 
Razumov to himself. "I'll become an idiot if this goes 
on. The scoundrels and the fools are murdering my 

He lost all hope of saving his future, which depended 
on the free use of his intelligence. 

He reached the doorway of his house in a state of 
mental discouragement which enabled him to receive 
with apparent indifference an official-looking envelope 
from the dirty hand of the dvornik. 

" A gendarme brought it," said the man. " He asked 
if you were at home. I told him ' No, he's not at home.' 
So he left it. ' Give it into his own hands,' says he. 
Now you've got it — eh ? " 

He went back to his sweeping, and Razumov climbed 
his stairs, envelope in hand. Once in his room he did 
not hasten to open it. Of course this official missive 
was from the superior direction of the police. A 
suspect ! A suspect ! 

He stared in dreary astonishment at the absurdity of 
his position. He thought with a sort of dry, unemotional 
melancholy ; three years of good work gone, the course 
of forty more perhaps jeopardized — turned from hope to 
terror, because events started by human folly link them- 
selves into a sequence which no sagacity can foresee and 
no courage can break through. Fatality enters your 
rooms while your landlady's back is turned ; you come 
home and find it in possession bearing a man's name, 
clothed in flesh — wearing a brown cloth coat and long 


boots — lounging against the stove. It asks you, " Is the 
outer door closed ? " — and you don't know enough to 
take it by the throat and fling it downstairs. You don't 
know. You welcome the crazy fate. " Sit down," you 
say. And it is all over. You cannot shake it off any 
more. It will cling to you for ever. Neither halter nor 
bullet can give you back the freedom of your life and the 
sanity of your thought. . . It was enough to dash 
one's head against a wall. 

Razumov looked slowly all round the walls as if to 
select a spot to dash his head against. Then he opened 
the letter. It directed the student Kirylo Sidorovitch 
Razumov to present himself without delay at the General 

Razumov had a vision of General T 's goggle 

eyes waiting for him — the embodied power of autocracy, 
grotesque and terrible. He embodied the whole power 
of autocracy because he was its guardian. He was the 
incarnate suspicion, the incarnate anger, the incarnate 
ruthlessness of a political and social regime on its defence. 
He loathed rebellion by instinct. And Razumov reflected 
that the man was simply unable to understand a reason- 
able adherence to the doctrine of absolutism. 

"What can he want with me precisely — I wonder?" 
he asked himself. 

As if that mental question had evoked the familiar 
phantom, Haldin stood suddenly before him in the room 
with an extraordinary completeness of detail. Though 
the short winter day had passed already into the sinister 
twilight of a land buried in snow, Razumov saw plainly 
the narrow leather strap round the Tcherkess coat. The 
illusion of that hateful presence was so perfect that he 
half expected it to ask, " Is the outer door closed ? " 
He looked at it with hatred and contempt. Souls do 
not take a shape of clothing. Moreover, Haldin could 


not be dead yet. Razumov stepped forward menacingly ; 
the vision vanished — and turning short on his heel he 
walked out of his room with infinite disdain. 

But after going down the first flight of stairs it 
occurred to him that perhaps the superior authorities 
of police meant to confront him with Haldin in the 
flesh. This thought struck him like a bullet, and had 
he not clung with both hands to the banister he would 
have rolled down to the next landing most likely. His 
legs were of no use for a considerable time. . , . But 
why ? For what conceivable reason ? To what end ? 

There could be no rational answer to these questions ; 
but Razumov remembered the promise made by the 

General to Prince K . His action was to remain 


He got down to the bottom of the stairs, lowering 
himself as it were from step to step, by the banister. 
Under the gate he regained much of his firmness of 
thought and limb. He went out into the street without 
staggering visibly. Every moment he felt steadier 
mentally. And yet he was saying to himself that 

General T was perfectly capable of shutting him 

up in the fortress for an indefinite time. His tempera- 
ment fitted his remorseless task, and his omnipotence 
made him inaccessible to reasonable argument. 

But when Razumov arrived at the Secretariat he 
discovered that he would have nothing to do with 

General T . It is evident from Mr. Razumov's diary 

that this dreaded personality was to remain in the back- 
ground. A civilian of superior rank received him in a 
private room after a period of vi/aiting in outer offices 
where a lot of scribbling went on at many tables in a 
heated and stuffy atmosphere. 

The clerk in uniform who conducted him said in the 
corridor — 


" You are going before Gregory Matvieitch Mikuliii." 

There was nothing formidable about the man bearing 
that name. His mild, expectant glance was turned on 
the door already when Razumov entered. At once, 
with the penholder he was holding in his hand, he pointed 
to a deep sofa between two windows. He followed 
Razumov with his eyes while that last crossed the room 
and sat down. The mild gaze rested on him, not curious, 
not inquisitive — certainly not suspicious — almost without 
expression. In its passionless persistence there was 
something resembling sympathy. 

Razumov, who had prepared his will and his intelli- 
gence to encounter General T himself, was pro- 
foundly troubled. All the moral bracing up against 
the possible excesses of power and passion went for 
nothing before this sallow man, who wore a full undipped 
beard. It was fair, thin, and very fine. The light fell 
in coppery gleams on the protuberances of a high, rugged 
forehead. And the aspect of the broad, soft physiognomy 
was so homely and rustic that the careful middle parting 
of the hair seemed a pretentious affectation. 

The diary of Mr. Razumov testifies to some irritation 
on his part. I may remark here that the diary proper 
consisting of the more or less daily entries seems to 
have been begun on that very evening after Mr. Razumov 
had returned home. 

Mr. Razumov, then, was irritated. His strung-up 
individuality had gone to pieces within him very 

" I must be very prudent with him," he warned 
himself in the silence during which they sat gazing at 
each other. It lasted some little time, and was char- 
acterized (for silences have their character) by a sort 
of sadness imparted to it perhaps by the mild and 
thoughtful manner of the bearded official. Razumov 


learned later that he was the chief oi" a department in 
the General Secretariat, with a rank in the civil service 
equivalent to that of a colonel in the army. 

Razumov's mistrust became acute. The' main point 
was, not to be drawn into saying too much. Me had 
been called there for some reason. What reason ? To 
be given to understand that he was a suspect — and 
also no doubt to be pumped. As to what precisely ? 
There was nothing. Or perhaps Haldin had been telling 
lies. . , . Every alarming uncertainty beset Razumov. 
He could bear the silence no longer, and cursing himself 
for his weakness spoke first, though he had promised 
himself not to do so on any account. 

" I haven't lost a moment's time," he began in a 
hoarse, provoking tone ; and then the faculty of speech 
seemed to leave him and enter the body of Councillor 
Mikulin, who chimed in approvingly — 

" Very proper. Very proper. Though as a matter 
of fact . . ." 

But the spell was broken, and Razumov interrupted 
him boldly, under a sudden conviction that this was 
the safest attitude to take. With a great flow of words 
he complained of being totally misunderstood. Even 
as he talked with a perception of his own audacity he 
thought that the word '* misunderstood " was better than 
the word " mistrusted," and he repeated it again with 
insistence. Suddenly he ceased, being seized with fright 
before the attentive immobility of the official. " W' hat 
am I talking about ? " he thought, eyeing him with a 
vague gaze. Mistrusted — not misunderstood — was the 
right symbol for these people. Misunderstood was the 
other kind of curse. Both had been brought on his 
head by that fellow Haldin. And his head ached terribly. 
He passed his hand over his brow — an involuntary 
gesture of suffering, which he was too careless to restrain. 





At that moment Razumov beheld his own brain suffering 
on the rack — a long, pale figure drawn asunder horizon- 
tally with terrific force in the darkness of a vault, whose 
face he failed to see. It was as though he had dreamed 
for an infinitesimal fraction of time of some dark print 
of the Inquisition. . . . 

It is not to be seriously supposed that Razumov 
had actually dozed off and had dreamed in the presence 
of Councillor Mikulin, of an old print of the Inquisition. 
He was indeed extremely exhausted, and he records a 
remarkably dream-like experience of anguish at the 
circumstance that there was no one whatever near the 
pale and extended figure. The solitude of the racked 
victim was particularly horrible to behold. The mysterious 
impossibility to see the face, he also notes, inspired a 
sort of terror. All these characteristics of an ugly dream 
were present. Yet he is certain that he never lost the 
consciousness of himself on the sofa, leaning forward 
with his hands between his knees and turning his cap 
round and round in his fingers. But everything vanished 
at the voice of Councillor Mikulin. Razumov felt pro- 
foundly grateful for the even simplicity of its tone. 

" Yes. I have listened with interest. I comprehend 
in a measure your . . . But, indeed, you are mistaken 
in what you . . ." Councillor Mikulin uttered a series 
of broken sentences. Instead of finishing them he 
glanced down his beard. It was a deliberate curtailment 
which somehow made the phrases more impressive. But 
he could talk fluently enough, as became apparent when 
changing his tone to persuasiveness he went on : " By 
listening to you as I did, I think I have proved that I 
do not regard our intercourse as strictly official." In fact, 
I don't want it to have that character at all. . . . Oh 
yes ! I admit that the request for your presence here 
had an official form. But I put it to you whether it was 


a form which would have been used to secure the attend- 
ance of a . . /' 

" Suspect," exclaimed Razumov, looking straight into 
the official's eyes. They were big with heavy eyelids, 
and met his boldness with a dim, steadfast gaze. " A 
suspect." The open repetition of that word which had 
been haunting all his waking hours gave Razumov a 
strange sort of satisfaction. Councillor Mikulin shook 
his head slightly. " Surely you do know that I've had 
my rooms searched by the police ? " 

" I was about to say a ' misunderstood person,' when 
you interrupted me," insinuated quietly Councillor 

Razumov smiled without bitterness. The renewed 
sense of his intellectual superiority sustained him in the 
hour of danger. He said a little disdainfully — 

" I know I am but a reed. But I beg you to allow 
me the superiority of the thinking reed over the unthink- 
ing forces that are about to crush him out of existence. 
Practical thinking in the last instance is but criticism. 
I may perhaps be allowed to express my wonder at this 
action of the police being delayed for two full days 
during which, of course, I could have annihilated every- 
thing compromising by burning it — let us say — and 
getting rid of the very ashes, for that matter." 

" You are angry," remarked the official, with an un- 
utterable simplicity of tone and manner. " Is that 
reasonable ? " 

Razumov felt himself colouring with annoyance. 

" I am reasonable. I am even — permit me to say — 
a thinker, though to be sure, this name nowadays seems 
to be the monopoly of hawkers of revolutionary wares, 
the slaves of some French or German thought — devil 
knows what foreign notions. But I am not an intel- 
lectual mongrel. I think like a Russian. I think faith- 


fully — and I take the liberty to call myself a thinker. 
It is not a forbidden word, as far as I know." 

" No. Why should it be a forbidden word ? " Coun- 
cillor Mikulin turned in his seat with crossed legs and 
resting his elbow on the table propped his head on the 
knuckles of a half-closed hand. Razumov noticed a 
thick forefinger clasped by a massive gold band set with 
a blood-red stone — a signet ring that, looking as if it 
could weigh half a pound, was an appropriate ornament 
for that ponderous man with the accurate middle-parting 
of glossy hair above a rugged Socratic forehead. 

" Could it be a wig ? " Razumov detected himself 
wondering with an unexpected detachment. His self- 
confidence was much shaken. He resolved to chatter 
no more. Reserve ! Reserve ! All he had to do was 
to keep the Ziemianitch episode secret with absolute 
determination, when the questions came. Keep Zie- 
mianitch strictly out of all the answers. 

Councillor Mikulin looked at him dimly. Razumov's 
self-confidence abandoned him completely. It seemed 
impossible to keep Ziemianitch out. Every question 
would lead to that, because, of course, there was nothing 
else. He made an effort to brace himself up. It was a 
failure. But Councillor Mikulin was surprisingly de- 
tached too. 

" Why should it be forbidden ? " he repeated. " I too 
consider myself a thinking man, I assure you. The 
principal condition is to think correctly. I admit it is 
difficult sometimes at first for a young man abandoned 
to himself — with his generous impulses undisciplined, so 
to speak — at the mercy of every wild wind that blows. 
Religious belief, of course, is a great . . ." 

Councillor Mikulin glanced down his beard, and 
Razumov, whose tension was relaxed by that unexpected 
and discursive turn, murmured with gloomy discontent — 


" That man, Haldin, believed in God." 

" Ah ! You are aware," breathed out Councillor 
Mikulin, making the point softly, as if with discretion, 
but making- it nevertheless plainly enough, as if he too 
were put off his guard by Razumov's remark. The young 
man preserved an impassive, moody countenance, though 
he reproached himself bitterly for a pernicious fool, to 
have given thus an utterly false impression of intimacy. 
He kept his eyes on the floor. " I must positively hold 
my tongue unless I am obliged to speak," he admonished 
himself And at once against his will the question, 
" Hadn't I better tell him everything ? " presented itself 
with such force that he had to bite his lower lip. Coun- 
cillor Mikulin could not, however, have nourished any 
hope of confession. He went on — 

" You tell me more than his judges were able to get 
out of him. He was judged by a commission of three. 
He would tell them absolutely nothing. I have the 
report of the interrogatories here, by me. After every 
question there stands ' Refuses to answer — refuses to 
answer.' It's like that page after page. You see, I 
have been entrusted with some further investigations 
around and about this affair. He has left me nothingf 
to begin my investigations on. A hardened miscreant. 
And so, you say, he believed in . . ." 

Again Councillor Mikulin glanced down his beard 
with a faint grimace ; but he did not pause for long. 
Remarking with a shade of scorn that blasphemers also 
had that sort of belief, he concluded by supposing that 
Mr. Razumov had conversed frequently with Haldin on 
the subject. 

" No," said Razumov loudly, without looking up. 
" He talked and I listened. That is not a conversation." 

" Listening is a great art," observed Mikulin 


" And getting people to talk is another," mumbled 

" Well, no — that is not very difficult," Mikulin said 
innocently, *' except, of course, in special cases. For 
instance, this Haldin. Nothing could induce him to 
talk. He was brought four times before the delegated 
judges. Four secret interrogatories — and even during 
the last, when your personality was put forward . . ." 

" My personality put forward ? " repeated Razumov, 
raising his head brusquely. " I don't understand." 

Councillor Mikulin turned squarely to the table, and 
taking up some sheets of grey foolscap dropped them 
one after another, retaining only the last in his hand. 
He held it before his eyes while speaking. 

" It was — you see — judged necessary. In a case of 
that gravity no means of action upon the culprit should 
be neglected. You understand that yourself, I am 

Razumov stared with enormous wide eyes at the side 
view of Councillor Mikulin, who now was not looking at 
him at all. 

" So it was decided (I was consulted by General 

T ) that a certain question should be put to the 

accused. But in deference to the earnest wishes of Prince 

K your name has been kept out of the documents and 

even from the very knowledge of the judges themselves. 

Prince K recognized the propriety, the necessity of 

what we proposed to do, but he was concerned for your 
safety. Things do leak out — that we can't deny. One 
cannot always answer for the discretion of inferior officials. 
There was, of course, the secretary of the special tribunal 
— one or two gendarmes in the room. Moreover, as I 

have said, in deference to Prince K even the judges 

themselves were to be left in ignorance. The question 
ready framed was sent to them by General T 


(I wrote it out with my own hand) with instructions to 
put it to the prisoner the very last of all. Here it is." 

Councillor MikuHn threw back his head into proper 
focus and went on reading monotonously : " Question — 
Has the man well known to you, in whose rooms you 
remained for several hours on Monday and on whose 
information you have been arrested — has he had any pre- 
vious knowledge of your intention to commit a political 
murder ? . . . Prisoner refuses to reply. 

" Question repeated. Prisoner preserves the same 
stubborn silence. 

" The venerable Chaplain of the Fortress being then 
admitted and exhorting the prisoner to repentance, 
entreating him also to atone for his crime by an un- 
reserved and full confession which should help to liberate 
from the sin of rebellion against the Divine laws and the 
sacred Majesty of the Ruler, our Christ-loving land — the 
prisoner opens his lips for the first time during this 
morning's audience and in a loud, clear voice rejects the 
venerable Chaplain's ministrations. 

" At eleven o'clock the Court pronounces in sum- 
mary form the death sentence. 

" Theexecution isfixedfor four o'clock in the afternoon, 
subject to further instructions from superior authorities." 

Councillor Mikulin dropped the page of foolscap, 
glanced down his beard, and turning to Razumov, added 
in an easy, explanatory tone — 

" We saw no object in delaying the execution. The 
order to carry out the sentence was sent by telegraph 
at noon. I wrote out the telegram myself. He was 
hanged at four o'clock this afternoon." 

The definite information of Haldin's death gave 
Razumov the feeling of general lassitude which follows 
a great exertion or a great excitement. He kept very 
still on the sofa, but a murmur escaped him — 


" He had a belief in a future existence." 

Councillor Mikulin shrugged his shoulders slightly, 
and Razumov got up with an effort. There was nothing 
now to stay for in that room. Haldin had been hanged 
at four o'clock. There could be no doubt of that. He 
had, it seemed, entered upon his future existence, long 
boots, Astrakhan fur cap and all, down to the very leather 
strap round his waist. A flickering, vanishing sort of 
existence. It was not his soul, it was his mere phantom 
he had left behind on this earth — thought Razumov, 
smiling caustically to himself while he crossed the room, 
utterly forgetful of where he was and of Councillor 
Mikulin's existence. The official could have set a lot of 
bells ringing all over the building without leaving his 
chair. He let Razumov go quite up to the door before 
he spoke. 

" Come, Kirylo Sidorovitch — what are you doing ? " 

Razumov turned his head and looked at him in 
silence. He was not in the least disconcerted. Coun- 
cillor Mikulin's arms were stretched out on the table 
before him and his body leaned forward a little with an 
effort of his dim gaze. 

" Was I actually going to clear out like this ? " 
Razumov wondered at himself with an impassive 
countenance. And he was aware of this impassiveness 
concealing a lucid astonishment. 

" Evidently I was going out if he had not spoken," 
he thought, " What would he have done then ? I must 
end this affair one way or another. I must make him 
show his hand." 

For a moment longer he reflected behind the mask 
as it were, then let go the door-handle and came back 
to the middle of the room. 

" I'll tell you what you think," he said explosively, 
but not raising his voice. " You think that you are 


dealing with a secret accomplice of that unhappy man. 
No, I do not know that he was unhappy. He did not 
tell me. He was a wretch from my point of view, 
because to keep alive a false idea is a greater crime 
than to kill a man. I suppose you will not deny that ? 
I hated him ! Visionaries work everlasting evil on 
earth. Their Utopias inspire in the mass of mediocre 
minds a disgust of reality and a contempt for the secular 
logic of human development." 

Razumov shrugged his shoulders and stared. " What 
a tirade ! " he thought. The silence and immobility of 
Councillor Mikulin impressed him. The bearded bureau- 
crat sat at his post, mysteriously self-possessed like an 
idol with dim, unreadable eyes. Razumov's voice changed 

" If you were to ask me where is the necessity of my 
hate for such as Haldin, I would answer you — there is 
nothing sentimental in it. I did not hate him because he 
had committed the crime of murder. Abhorrence is not 
hate. I hated him simply because I am sane. It is in 
that character that he outraged me. His death . . ." 

Razumov felt his voice growing thick in his throat. 
The dimness of Councillor Mikulin's eyes seemed to 
spread all over his face and made it indistinct to Razu- 
mov's sight. He tried to disregard these phenomena. 

" Indeed," he pursued, pronouncing each word care- 
fully, "what is his death to me? If he were lying 
here on the floor I could walk over his breast. . . . 
The fellow is a mere phantom. . . ." 

Razumov's voice died out very much against his will. 
Mikulin behind the table did not allow himself the 
slightest movement. The silence lasted for some little 
time before Razumov could go on again. 

" He went about talking of me. . . . Those intel- 
lectual fellows sit in each other's rooms and get drunk 



on foreign ideas in the same way young Guards' 
officers treat each other with foreign wines. Merest 
debauchery. . . . Upon my word," — Razumov, enraged 
by a sudden recollection of Ziemianitch, lowered his 
voice forcibly, — " upon my word, we Russians are a 
drunken lot. Intoxication of some sort we must have : 
to get ourselves wild with sorrow or maudlin with 
resignation ; to lie inert like a log or set fire to the house. 
What is a sober man to do, I should like to know ? To 
cut oneself entirely from one's kind is impossible. To 
live in a desert one must be a saint. But if a drunken 
man runs out of the grog-shop, falls on your neck and 
kisses you on both cheeks because something about your 
appearance has taken his fancy, what then — kindly tell 
me ? You may break, perhaps, a cudgel on his back 
and yet not succeed in beating him off . . ." 

Councillor Mikulin raised his hand and passed it 
down his face deliberately. 

" That's ... of course," he said in an undertone. 

The quiet gravity of that gesture made Razumov 
pause. It was so unexpected, too. What did it mean? 
It had an alarming aloofness. Razumov remembered 
his intention of making him show his hand. 

" I have said all this to Prince K ," he began with 

assumed indifference, but lost it on seeing Councillor 
Mikulin's slow nod of assent. "You know it? You've 
heard . . . Then why should I be called here to be 
told of Haldin's execution ? Did you want to confront 
me with his silence now that the man is dead ? What 
is his silence to me? This is incomprehensible. You 
want in some way to shake my moral balance." 

" No. Not that," murmured Councillor Mikulin, 
just audibly. " The service you have rendered is 
appreciated . . ." 

" Is it ? " interrupted Razumov ironically. 


"... and your position too." Councillor Mikulin 
did not raise his voice. " But only think ! You fall 

into Prince K 's study as if from the sky with your 

startling information. . . . You are studying yet, Mr. 
Razumov, but we are serving already — don't forget 
that. . . . And naturally some curiosity was bound 
to . . ." 

Councillor Mikulin looked down his beard. Razumov's 
lips trembled. 

" An occurrence of that sort marks a man," the 
homely murmur went on. " I admit I was curious to 

see you. General T thought it would be useful, 

too. . . . Don't think I am incapable of understanding 
your sentiments. When I was young like you I 
studied . . ." 

" Yes — you wished to see me," said Razumov in a 
tone of profound distaste. " Naturally you have the 
right — I mean the power. It all amounts to the same 
thing. But it is perfectly useless, if you were to look 
at me and listen to me for a year. I begin to think 
there is something about me which people don't seem 
able to make out. It's unfortunate. I imagine, how- 
ever, that Prince K understands. He seemed to." 

Councillor Mikulin moved slightly and spoke. 

" Prince K is aware of everything that is being 

done, and I don't mind informing you that he approved 
my intention of becoming personally acquainted with 

Razumov concealed an immense disappointment 
under the accents of railing surprise. 

" So he is curious too ! . . . Well — after all. Prince 
K knows me very little. It is really very un- 
fortunate for me, but — it is not exactly my fault." 

Councillor Mikulin raised a hasty deprecatory hand 
and inclined his head slightly over his shoulder. 


" Now, Mr. Raziimov — is it necessary to take it in 
that way ? Everybody I am sure can . . ." 

He glanced rapidly down his beard, and when he 
looked up again there was for a moment an interested 
expression in his misty gaze, Razumov discouraged it 
with a cold, repellent smile. 

" No. That's of no importance to be sure — except 
that in respect of all this curiosity being aroused by a 
very simple matter. . . . What is to be done with it ? 
It is unappeasable. I mean to say there is nothing to 
appease it with. I happen to have been born a Russian 
with patriotic instincts — whether inherited or not I am 
not in a position to say." 

Razumov spoke consciously with elaborate steadi- 

" Yes, patriotic instincts developed by a faculty of 
independent thinking — of detached thinking. In that 
respect I am more free than any social democratic 
revolution could make me. It is more than probable 
that I don't think exactly as you are thinking. Indeed, 
how could it be ? You would think most likely at this 
moment that I am elaborately lying to cover up the 
track of my repentance." 

Razumov stopped. His heart had grown too big for 
his breast. Councillor Mikulin did not flinch. 

"Why 'so?" he said simply. "I assisted personally 
at the search of your rooms. I looked through all the 
papers myself. I have been greatly impressed by a 
sort of political confession of faith. A very remarkable 
document. Now may I ask for what purpose . . ." 

" To deceive the police naturally," said Razumov 
savagely. ..." What is all this mockery ? Of course, 
you can send me straight from this room to Siberia. 
That would be intelligible. To what is intelligible I can 
submit. But I protest against this comedy of persecu- 


tion. The whole affair is becoming too comical altogether 
for my taste. A comedy of errors, phantoms, and 
suspicions. It's positively indecent . . ." 

Councillor Mikulin turned an attentive ear. 

" Did you say phantoms ? " he murmured. 

" I could walk over dozens of them." Razumov, 
with an impatient wave of his hand, went on headlong, 
** But, really, I must claim the right to be done once for 
all with that man. And in order to accomplish this I 
shall take the liberty . . ." 

Razumov on his side of the table bowed slightly to 
the seated bureaucrat. 

"... To retire — simply to retire," he finished with 
great resolution. 

He walked to the door, thinking, " Now he must 
show his hand. He must ring and have me arrested 
before I am out of the building, or he must let me go. 
And either way ..." 

An unhurried voice said — 

" Kirylo Sidorovitch." 

Razumov at the door turned his head, 

" To retire," he repeated. 

"Where to?" asked Councillor Mikulin softly. 



In the conduct of an invented story there are, no doubt, 
certain proprieties to be observed for the sake of clear- 
ness and effect. A man of imagination, however inex- 
perienced in the art of narrative, has his instinct to guide 
him in the choice of his words, and in the development 
of the action. A grain of talent excuses many mistakes. 
But this is not a work of imagination ; I have no talent ; 
my excuse for this undertaking lies not in its art, but in 
its artlessness. Aware of my limitations and strong in 
the sincerity of my purpose, I would not try (were I able) 
to invent anything. I push my scruples so far that I 
would not even invent a transition. 

Dropping then Mr. Razumov's record at the point 
where Councillor Mikulin's question "Where to?" comes 
in with the force of an insoluble problem, I shall simply 
say that I made the acquaintance of these ladies about 
six months before that time. By " these ladies " I mean, 
of course, the mother and the sister of the unfortunate 

By what arguments he had induced his mother to 
sell their little property and go abroad for an indefinite 
time, I cannot tell precisely. I have an idea that Mrs. 
Haldin, at her son's wish, would have set fire to her 
house and emigrated to the moon without any sign of 

surprise or apprehension; and that Miss Haldin — Nathalie, 



caressingly Natalka — would have given her assent to the 

Their proud devotion to that young man became 
clear to me in a very short time. Following his directions 
they went straight to Switzerland — to Zurich — where they 
remained the best part of a year. From Zurich, which 
they did not like, they came to Geneva. A friend of 
mine in Lausanne, a lecturer in history at the University 
(he had married a Russian lady, a distant connection of 
Mrs. Haldin's), wrote to me suggesting I should call on 
these ladies. It was a very kindly meant business sug- 
gestion. Miss Haldin wished to go through a course of 
reading the best English authors with a competent teacher. 

Mrs. Haldin received me very kindly. Her bad 
French, of which she was smilingly conscious, did away 
with the formality of the first interview. She was a tall 
woman in a black silk dress. A wide brow, regular 
features, and delicately cut lips, testified to her past 
beauty. She sat upright in an easy chair and in a 
rather weak, gentle voice told me that her Natalka simply 
thirsted after knowledge. Her thin hands were lying on 
her lap, her facial immobility had in it something monachal. 
" In Russia," she went on, " all knowledge was tainted 
with falsehood. Not chemistry and all that, but education 
generally," she explained. The Government corrupted 
the teaching for its own purposes. Both her children felt 
that. Her Natalka had obtained a diploma of a Superior 
School for Women and her son was a student at the 
St. Petersburg University. He had a brilliant intellect, 
a most noble unselfish nature, and he was the oracle of his 
comrades. Early next year, she hoped he would join them 
and they would then go to Italy together. In any other 
country but their own she would have been certain of a 
great future for a man with the extraordinary abilities 
and the lofty character of her son — but in Russia . . . 


The young lady sitting by the window turned her 
head and said — 

" Come, mother. Even with us things change with 

Her voice was deep, almost harsh, and yet caressing 
in its harshness. She had a dark complexion, with red 
lips and a full figure. She gave the impression of strong 
vitality. The old lady sighed. 

" You are both young — you two. It is easy for you 
to hope. But I, too, am not hopeless. Indeed, how 
could I be with a son like this." 

I addressed Miss Haldin, asking her what authors 
she wished to read. She directed upon me her grey 
eyes shaded by black eyelashes, and I became aware, 
notwithstanding my years, how attractive physically her 
personality could be to a man capable of appreciating 
in a woman something else than the mere grace of 
femininity. Her glance was as direct and trustful as 
that of a young man yet unspoiled by the world's wise 
lessons. And it was intrepid, but in this intrepidity 
there was nothing aggressive. A naive yet thoughtful 
assurance is a better definition. She had reflected already 
(in Russia the young begin to think early), but she had 
never known deception as yet because obviously she had 
never yet fallen under the sway of passion. She was — 
to look at her was enough — very capable of being roused 
by an idea or simply by a person. At least, so I 
judged with I believe an unbiassed mind ; for clearly 
my person could not be the person — and as to my 
ideas ! . , . 

We became excellent friends in the course of our 
reading. It was very pleasant. Without fear of pro- 
voking a smile, I shall confess that I became very much 
attached to that young girl. At the end of four months 
I told her that now she could very well go on reading 


English by herself. It was time for the teacher to depart. 
My pupil looked unpleasantly surprised. 

Mrs. Haldin, with her immobility of feature and 
kindly expression of the eyes, uttered from her armchair 
in her uncertain French, " Mais rami reviendrar And 
so it was settled. I returned — not four times a week as 
before, but pretty frequently. In the autumn we made 
some short excursions together in company with other 
Russians. My friendship with these ladies gave me a 
standing in the Russian colony which otherwise I could 
not have had. 

The day I saw in the papers the news of Mr. de 

P 's assassination — it was a Sunday — I met the two 

ladies in the street and walked with them for some 
distance. Mrs. Haldin wore a heavy grey cloak, I 
remember, over her black silk dress, and her fine eyes 
met mine with a very quiet expression. 

" We have been to the late service," she said. 
" Natalka came with me. Her girl-friends, the students 
here, of course don't. . . . With us in Russia the church 
is so identified with oppression, that it seems almost 
necessary when one wishes to be free in this life, to give 
up all hope of a future existence. But I cannot give up 
praying for my son." 

She added with a sort of stony grimness, colouring 
slightly, and in French, " Ce 71 est petit etre qiiu7ie 
habitude" (" It may be only habit.") 

Miss Haldin was carrying the prayer-book. She did 
not glance at her mother. 

"You and Victor are both profound believers," she 

I communicated to them the news from their country 
which I had just read in a cafe. For a whole minute we 
walked together fairly briskly in silence. Then Mrs. 
Haldin murmured — 


" There will be more trouble, more persecutions for 
this. They may be even closing the University. There 
is neither peace nor rest in Russia for one but in the 

" Yes. The way is hard," came from the daughter, 
looking straight before her at the Chain of Jura covered 
with snow, like a white wall closing the end of the street. 
" But concord is not so very far off." 

" That is what my children think," observed Mrs. 
Haldin to me. 

I did not conceal my feeling that these were strange 
times to talk of concord. Nathalie Haldin surprised me 
by saying, as if she had thought very much on the 
subject, that the occidentals did not understand the 
situation. She was very calm and youthfully superior. 

" You think it is a class conflict, or a conflict of 
interests, as social contests are with you in Europe. But 
it is not that at all. It is something quite different." 

" It is quite possible that I don't understand," I 

That propensity of lifting every problem from the 
plane of the understandable by means of some sort of 
mystic expression, is very Russian. I knew her well 
enough to have discovered her scorn for all the practical 
forms of political liberty known to the western world. I 
suppose one must be a Russian to understand Russian 
simplicity, a terrible corroding simplicity in which mystic 
phrases clothe a naive and hopeless cynicism. I think 
sometimes that the psychological secret of the profound 
difference of that people consists in this, that they detest 
life, the irremediable life of the earth as it is, whereas we 
westerners cherish it with perhaps an equal exaggeration 
of its sentimental value. But this is a digression in- 
deed. . . . 

I helped these ladies into the tramcar and they asked 


me to call in the afternoon. At least Mrs. Haldin asked 
me as she climbed up, and her Natalka smiled down at 
the dense westerner indulgently from the rear platform of 
the moving car. The light of the clear wintry forenoon 
was softened in her grey eyes. 

Mr. Razumov's record, like the open book of fate, 
revives for me the memory of that day as something 
startlingly pitiless in its freedom from all forebodings. 
Victor Haldin was still with the living, but with the 
living whose only contact with life is the expectation of 
death. He must have been already referring to the last 
of his earthly affections, the hours of that obstinate silence, 
which for him was to be prolonged into eternity. That 
afternoon the ladies entertained a good many of their com- 
patriots — more than was usual for them to receive at one 
time ; and the drawing-room on the ground floor of a 
large house on the Boulevard des Philosophes was very 
much crowded. 

I outstayed everybody ; and when I rose Miss Haldin 
stood up too. I took her hand and was moved to revert 
to that morning's conversation in the street. 

" Admitting that we occidentals do not understand 
the character of your people ..." I began. 

It was as if she had been prepared for me by some 
mysterious fore-knowledge. She checked me gently — 

"Their impulses — their . . ." she sought the proper 
expression and found it, but in French ..." their 
mouvements d' diner "^^i - ^ 'a/ , ^ frlf, Q-m\t<^ , «5e«»+^V>,^y..t<• 

Her voice was not much above a whisper. 

" Very well," I said. " But still we are looking at a 
conflict. You say it is not a conflict of classes and not 
a conflict of interests. Suppose I admitted that. Are 
antagonistic ideas then to be reconciled more easily — 
can they be cemented with blood and violence into that 
concord which you proclaim to be so near ? " 


She looked at me searchingly with her clear grey 
eyes, without answering my reasonable question — my 
obvious, my unanswerable question. 

" It is inconceivable," I added, with something like 

" Everything is inconceivable," she said. " The 
whole world is inconceivable to the strict logic of ideas. 
And yet the world exists to our senses, and we exist in 
it. There must be a necessity superior to our concep- 
tions. It is a very miserable and a very false thing to 
belong to the majority. We Russians shall find some 
better form of national freedom than an artificial conflict 
of parties — which is wrong because it is a conflict and 
contemptible because it is artificial. It is left for us 
Russians to discover a better way." 

Mrs. Haldin had been looking out of the window. 
She turned upon me the almost lifeless beauty of her 
face, and the living benign glance of her big dark 

" That's what my children think," she declared. 

" I suppose," I addressed Miss Haldin, " that you 
will be shocked if I tell you that I haven't understood — 
I won't say a single word ; I've understood all the 
words. . . . But what can be this era of disembodied 
concord you are looking forward to. Life is a thing of 
form. It has its plastic shape and a definite intellectual 
aspect. The most idealistic conceptions of love and 
forbearance must be clothed in flesh as it were before 
they can be made understandable." 

I took my leave of Mrs. Haldin, whose beautiful 
lips never stirred. She smiled with her eyes only. 
Nathalie Haldin went with me as far as the door, very 

" Mother imagines that I am the slavish echo of my 
brother Victor. It is not so. He understands me better 


than I can understand him. When he joins us and you 
come to know him you will see what an exceptional 
soul it is." She paused. " He is not a strong man in 
the conventional sense, you know," she added. " But 
his character is without a flaw." 

" I believe that it will not be difficult for me to make 
friends with your brother Victor." 

" Don't expect to understand him quite," she said, a 
little maliciously. " He is not at all — at all — western 
at bottom." '— 

And on this unnecessary warning I left the room 
with another bow in the doorway to Mrs. Haldin in her 
armchair by the window. The shadow of autocracy all 
unperceived by me had already fallen upon the Boule- 
vard des Philosophes, in the free, independent and 
democratic city of Geneva, where there is a quarter 
called " La Petite Russie." Whenever two Russians 
come together, the shadow of autocracy is with them, 
tinging their thoughts, their views, their most intimate 
feelings, their private life, their public utterances — 
haunting the secret of their silences. 

What struck me next in the course of a week or so 
was the silence of these ladies. I used to meet them 
walking in the public garden near the University, They 
greeted me with their usual friendliness, but I could not 
help noticing their taciturnity. By that time it was 

generally known that the assassin of M. de P had 

been caught, judged, and executed. So much had been 
declared officially to the news agencies. But for the 
world at large he remained anonymous. The official 
secrecy had withheld his name from the public. I really 
cannot imagine for what reason. 

One day I saw Miss Haldin walking alone in the 
main valley of the Bastions under the naked trees. 

" Mother is not very well," she explained. 


As Mrs. Haldin had, it seemed, never had a day's 
illness in her life, this indisposition was disquieting. It 
was nothing definite, too. 

" I think she is fretting because we have not heard 
from my brother for rather a long time." 

" No news — good news," I said cheerfully, and we 
began to walk slowly side by side. 

" Not in Russia," she breathed out so low that I 
only just caught the words. I looked at her with more 

" You too are anxious ? " 

She admitted after a moment of hesitation that she 

" It is really such a long time since we heard . . ." 

And before I could offer the usual banal suggestions 
she confided in me. 

" Oh ! But it is much worse than that. I wrote to 
a family we know in Petersburg. They had not seen 
him for more than a month. They thought he was 
already with us. They were even offended a little that 
he should have left Petersburg without calling on them. 
The husband of the lady went at once to his lodgings, 
Victor had left there and they did not know his address." 

I remember her catching her breath rather pitifully. 
Her brother had not been seen at lectures for a very 
long time either. He only turned up now and then 
at the University gate to ask the porter for his letters. 
And the gentleman friend was told that the student 
Haldin did not come to claim the last two letters for 
him. But the police came to inquire if the student 
Haldin ever received any correspondence at the Uni- 
versity and took them away. 

" My two last letters," she said. 

We faced each other. A few snow-flakes fluttered 
under the naked boughs. The sky was dark. 


" What do you think could have happened ? " I asked. 

Her shoulders moved slightly. 

" One can never tell — in Russia." 

I saw then the shadow of autocracy lying upon 
Russian lives in their submission or their revolt. I 
saw it touch her handsome open face nestled in a fur 
collar and darken her clear eyes that shone upon me 
brilliantly grey in the murky light of a beclouded, 
inclement afternoon. 

" Let us move on," she said. " It is cold standing — 

She shuddered a little and stamped her little feet. 
We moved briskly to the end of the alley and back to 
the great gates of the garden. 

" Have you told your mother ? " I ventured to ask. 

" No. Not yet. I came out to walk off the 
impression of this letter." 

I heard a rustle of paper somewhere. It came from 
her muff. She had the letter with her in there. 

" What is it that you are afraid of ? " I asked. 

To us Europeans of the West, all ideas of political 
plots and conspiracies seem childish, crude inventions 
for the theatre or a novel. I did not like to be more 
definite in my inquiry. 

" For us — for my mother specially, what I am afraid 
of is incertitude. People do disappear. Yes, they do 
disappear. I leave you to imagine what it is — the 
cruelty of the dumb weeks — months — years ! This 
friend of ours has abandoned his inquiries when he heard 
of the police getting hold of the letters. I suppose he 
was afraid of compromising himself. He has a wife 
and children — and why should he, after all. . . . 
Moreover, he is without influential connections and not 
rich. What could he do? . . . Yes, I am afraid of 
silence — for my poor mother. She won't be able to 


bear it. For my brother I am afraid of . . ." she 
became almost indistinct, "of anything." 

We were now near the gate opposite the theatre. 
She raised her voice. 

" But lost people do turn up even in Russia, Do 
you know what my last hope is ? Perhaps the next 
thing we know, we shall see him walking into our 

I raised my hat and she passed out of the gardens, 
graceful and strong, after a slight movement of the head 
to me, her hands in the muff, crumpling the cruel 
Petersburg letter. 

On returning home I opened the newspaper I receive 
from London, and glancing down the correspondence 
from Russia — not the telegrams but the correspondence 
— the first thing that caught my eye was the nam.e of 

Haldin. Mr. de P 's death was no longer an 

actuality, but the enterprising correspondent was proud 
of having ferreted out some unofficial information about 
that fact of modern history. He had got hold of 
Haldin's name, and had picked up the story of the 
midnight arrest in the street. But the sensation from 
a journalistic point of view was already well in the past. 
He did not allot to it more than twentv lines out of 
a full column. It was quite enough to give me a 
sleepless night. I perceived that it would have been 
a sort of treason to let Miss Haldin come without pre- 
paration upon that journalistic discovery which would 
infallibly be reproduced on the morrow by French and 
Swiss newspapers. I had a very bad time of it till the 
morning, wakeful with nervous worry and night-marish 
with the feeling of being mixed up with something 
theatrical and morbidly affected. The incongruity of 
such a complication in those two women's lives was 
sensible to me all night in the form of absolute anguish. 


It seemed due to their refined simplicity that it should 
remain concealed from them for ever. Arriving at an un- 
conscionably early hour at the door of their apartment, I 
felt as if I were about to commit an act of vandalism, . . . 

The middle-aged servant woman led me into the 
drawing-room where there was a duster on a chair 
and a broom leaning against the centre table. The 
motes danced in the sunshine ; I regretted I had not 
written a letter instead of coming myself, and was 
thankful for the brightness of the day. Miss Haldin 
in a plain black dress came lightly out of her mother's 
room with a fixed uncertain smile on her lips. 

I pulled the paper out of my pocket. I did not 
imagine that a number of the Standard could have 
the effect of Medusa's head. Her face went stony in 
a moment — her eyes — her limbs. The most terrible 
thing was that being stony she remained alive. One 
was conscious of her palpitating heart. I hope she 
forgave me the delay of my clumsy circumlocution. 
It was not very prolonged ; she could not have kept 
so still from head to foot for more than a second or two ; 
and then I heard her draw a breath. As if the shock 
had paralysed her moral resistance, and affected the 
firmness of her muscles, the contours of her face seemed 
to have given way. She w^as frightfully altered. She 
looked aged — ruined. But only for a moment. She 
said with decision — 

" I am going to tell my mother at once." 

" Would that be safe in her state ? " I objected. 

" What can be worse than the state she has been in 
for the last month? We understand this in another 
way. The crime is not at his door. Don't imagine 
I am defending him before you." 

She went to the bedroom door, then came back to 
ask me in a low murmur not to go till she returned. 


For twenty interminable minutes not a sound reached 
me. At last Miss Haldin came out and walked across 
the room with her quick light step. When she reached 
the armchair she dropped into it heavily as if completely 

Mrs, Haldin, she told me, had not shed a tear. She 
was sitting up in bed, and her immobility, her silence, 
were very alarming. At last she lay down gently and 
had motioned her daughter away. 

" She will call me in presently," added Miss Haldin. 
« I left a bell near the bed." 

I confess that my very real sympathy had no stand- 
point. The Western readers for whom this story is 
written will understand what I mean. It was, if I may 
say so, the want of experience. Death is a remorseless 
spoliator. The anguish of irreparable loss is familiar to 
us all. There is no life so lonely as to be safe against 
that experience. But the grief I had brought to these 
two ladies had gruesome associations. It had the 
associations of bombs and gallows — a lurid, Russian 
colouring which made the complexion of my sympathy 

I was grateful to Miss Haldin for not embarrassing 
me by an outward display of deep feeling. I admired 
her for that wonderful command over herself, even while 
I was a little frightened at it. It was the stillness of 
a great tension. What if it should suddenly snap ? 
Even the door of Mrs. Haldin's room, with the old 
mother alone in there, had a rather awful aspect. 

Nathalie Haldin murmured sadly — 

" I suppose you are wondering what my feelings are ? " 

Essentially that was true. It was that very wonder 
which unsettled my sympathy of a dense Occidental. 
I could get hold of nothing but of some commonplace 
phrases, those futile phrases that give the measure of our 


impotence before each other's trials I mumbled some- 
thing to the effect that, for the young, life held its hopes 
and compensations. It held duties too — but of that I 
was certain it was not necessary to remind her. 

She had a handkerchief in her hands and pulled at 
it nervously. 

" I am not likely to forget my mother," she said. 
" We used to be three. Now we are two — two women. 
She's not so very old. She may live quite a long time 
yet. What have we to look for in the future ? For 
what hope and what consolation ? " 

" You must take a wider view," I said resolutely, 
thinking that with this exceptional creature this was 
the right note to strike. She looked at me steadily for 
a moment, and then the tears she had been keeping 
down flowed unrestrained. She jumped up and stood 
in the window with her back to me. 

I slipped away without attempting even to approach 
her. Next day I was told at the door that Mrs. Haldin 
was better. The middle-aged servant remarked that 
a lot of people — Russians — had called that day, but 
Miss Haldin had not seen anybody. A fortnight 
later, when making my daily call, I was asked in and 
found Mrs. Haldin sitting in her usual place by the 

At first one would have thought that nothing was 
changed. I saw across the room the familiar profile, 
a little sharper in outline and overspread by a uniform 
pallor as might have been expected in an invalid. But 
no disease could have accounted for the change in her 
black eyes, smiling no longer with gentle irony. She 
raised them as she gave me her hand. I observed the 
three weeks' old number of the Standard folded with 
the correspondence from Russia uppermost, lying on a 
little table by the side of the armchair. Mrs. Haldin's 


voice was startlingly weak and colourless. Her first 
words to me framed a question. 

" Has there been anything more in your news- 
papers ? " 

I released her long emaciated hand, shook my head 
negatively, and sat down. 

" The English press is wonderful. Nothing can be 
kept secret from it, and all the world must hear. Only 
our Russian news is not always easy to understand. 
Not always easy. . . . But English mothers do not 
look for news like that ..." 

She laid her hand on the newspaper and took it away 
again. I said — 

" We too have had tragic times in our history." 

"A long time ago. A very long time ago." 

" Yes." 

" There are nations that have made their bargain 
with fate," said Miss Haldin, who had approached us. 
" We need not envy them." 

" Why this scorn ? " I asked gently. " It may be 
that our bargain was not a very lofty one. But the 
terms men and nations obtain from Fate are hallowed 
by the price." 

Mrs. Haldin turned her head away and looked out 
of the window for a time, with that new, sombre, extinct 
gaze of her sunken eyes which so completely made 
another woman of her. 

" That Englishman, this correspondent," she addressed 
me suddenly, " do you think it is possible that he knew 
my son ? " 

To this strange question I could only say that it was 
possible of course. She saw my surprise. 

" If one knew what sort of man he was one could 
perhaps write to him," she murmured. 

" Mother thinks," explained Miss Haldin, standing 


between us, with one hand resting on the back of my 
chair, " that my poor brother perhaps did not try to save 

I looked up at Miss Haldin in sympathetic con- 
sternation, but Miss Haldin was looking down calmly at 
her mother. The latter said — 

" We do not know the address of any of his friends. 
Indeed, we know nothing of his Petersburg comrades. 
He had a multitude of young friends, only he never 
spoke much of them. One could guess that they were 
his disciples and that they idolized him. But he 
was so modest. One would think that with so many 
devoted . . ." 

She averted her head again and looked down the 
Boulevard des Philosophes, a singularly arid and dusty 
thoroughfare, where nothing could be seen at the 
moment but two dogs, a little girl in a pinafore hopping 
on one leg, and in the distance a workman wheeling a 

" Even amongst the Apostles of Christ there was 
found a Judas," she whispered as if to herself, but with the 
evident intention to be heard by me. 

The Russian visitors assembled in little knots, 
conversed amongst themselves meantime, in low murmurs, 
and with brief glances in our direction. It was a great 
contrast to the usual loud volubility of these gatherings. 
Miss Haldin followed me into the ante-room. 

" People will come," she said. " We cannot shut the 
door in their faces." 

While I was putting on my overcoat she began to 
talk to me of her mother. Poor Mrs. Haldin was 
fretting after more news. She wanted to go on hearing 
about her unfortunate son. She could not make up her 
mind to abandon him quietly to the dumb unknown. 
She would persist in pursuing him in there through the 


long days of motionless silence face to face with the 
empty Boulevard des Philosophes. She could not under- 
stand why he had not escaped — as so many other 
revolutionists and conspirators had managed to escape 
in other instances of that kind. It was really incon- 
ceivable that the means of secret revolutionary organisa- 
tions should have failed so inexcusably to preserve her 
son. But in reality the inconceivable that staggered her 
mind was nothing but the cruel audacity of Death 
passing over her head to strike at that young and 
precious heart. 

Miss Haldin mechanically, with an absorbed look, 
handed me my hat. I understood from her that the 
poor woman was possessed by the sombre and simple 
idea that her son must have perished because he did 
not want to be saved. It could not have been that he 
despaired of his country's future. That was impossible. 
Was it possible that his mother and sister had not 
known how to merit his confidence ; and that, after 
having done what he was compelled to do, his spirit 
became crushed by an intolerable doubt, his mind 
distracted by a sudden mistrust. 

I was very much shocked by this piece of ingenuity. 
" Our three lives were like that ! " Miss Haldin twined 
the fingers of both her hands together in demonstration, 
then separated them slowly, looking straight into my 
face. "That's what poor mother found to torment 
herself and me with, for all the years to come," added 
the strange girl. At that moment her indefinable charm 
was revealed to me in the conjunction of passion and 
stoicism. I imagined what her life was likely to be by 
the side of Mrs. Haldin's terrible immobility, inhabited 
by that fixed idea. But my concern was reduced to 
silence by my ignorance of her modes of feeling. 
Difference of nationality is a terrible obstacle for our 


complex Western natures. But Miss Haldin probably 
was too simple to suspect my embarrassment. She did 
not wait for me to say anything, but as if reading my 
thoughts on my face she went on courageously — • 

" At first poor mother went numb, as our peasants 
say ; then she began to think and she will go on now 
thinking and thinking in that unfortunate strain. You 
see yourself how cruel that is. . . ." 

I never spoke with greater sincerity than when I 
agreed with her that it would be deplorable in the highest 
degree. She took an anxious breath, 

" But all these strange details in the English paper," 
she exclaimed suddenly. " What is the meaning of 
them ? I suppose they are true ? But is it not terrible 
that my poor brother should be caught wandering alone, 
as if in despair, about the streets at night. . . ." 

We stood so close to each other in the dark ante- 
room that I could see her biting her lower lip to suppress 
a dry sob. After a short pause she said — 

" I suggested to mother that he may have been 
betrayed by some false friend or simply by some 
cowardly creature. It may be easier for her to believe 

I understood now the poor woman's whispered 
allusion to Judas. 

" It may be easier," I admitted, admiring inwardly 
the directness and the subtlety of the girl's outlook. 
She was dealing with life as it was made for her by 
the political conditions of her country. She faced 
cruel realities, not morbid imaginings of her own making. 
I could not defend myself from a certain feeling of respect 
when she added simply — 

" Time they say can soften every sort of bitterness. 
But I cannot believe that it has afiy power over remorse. 
It is better that mother should think some person guilty 


of Victor's death, than that she should connect it with a 
weakness of her son or a shortcoming of her own." 

" But you, yourself, don't suppose that ..." I 

She compressed her lips and shook her head. She 
harboured no evil thoughts against any one, she declared 
— and perhaps nothing that happened was unnecessary. 
On these words, pronounced low and sounding mysterious 
in the half obscurity of the ante-room, we parted with 
an expressive and warm handshake. The grip of her 
strong, shapely hand had a seductive frankness, a sort of 
exquisite virility. I do not know why she should have 
felt so friendly to me. It may be that she thought I 
understood her much better than I was able to do. The 
most precise of her sayings seemed always to me to have 
enigmatical prolongations vanishing somewhere beyond 
my reach. I am reduced to suppose that she appreciated 
my attention and my silence. The attention she could 
see was quite sincere, so that the silence could not be 
suspected of coldness. It seemed to satisfy her. And 
it is to be noted that if she confided in me it was clearly 
not with the expectation of receiving advice, for which, 
indeed, she never asked. 


Our daily relations were interrupted at this period for 
something like a fortnight. I had to absent myself 
unexpectedly from Geneva. On my return I lost no 
time in directing my steps up the Boulevard des 

Through the open door of the drawing-room I was 
annoyed to hear a visitor holding forth steadily in an 
unctuous deep voice. 

Mrs. Haldin's armchair by the window stood empty. 


On the sofa, Nathalie Haldin raised her charming grey 
eyes in a glance of greeting accompanied by the merest 
hint of a welcoming smile. But she made no movement. 
With her strong white hands lying inverted in the lap of 
her mourning dress she faced a man who presented to 
me a robust back covered with black broadcloth, and 
well in keeping with the deep voice. He turned his 
head sharply over his shoulder, but only for a moment. 

" Ah ! your English friend. I know. I know. 
That's nothing." 

He wore spectacles with smoked glasses, a tall silk 
hat stood on the floor by the side of his chair. Flourish- 
ing slightly a big soft hand he went on with his discourse, 
precipitating his delivery a little more. 

" I have never changed the faith I held while wandering 
in the forests and bogs of Siberia. It sustained me then 
— it sustains me now. The great Powers of Europe are 
bound to disappear — and the cause of their collapse will 
be very simple. They will exhaust themselves struggling 
against their proletariat. In Russia it is different. In 
Russia we have no classes to combat each other, one 
holding the power of wealth, and the other mighty with 
the strength of numbers. We have only an unclean 
bureaucracy in the face of a people as great and as in- 
corruptible as the ocean. No, we have no classes. But 
we have the Russian woman. The admirable Russian 
woman ! I receive most remarkable letters signed by 
women. So elevated in tone, so courageous, breathing 
such a noble ardour of service ! The greatest part of our 
hopes rests on women. I behold their thirst for know- 
ledge. It is admirable. Look how they absorb, how 
they are making it their own. It is miraculous. But 
what is knowledge? ... I understand that you have 
not been studying anything especially — medicine for 
instance. No? That's right. Had I been honoured 


by being asked to advise you on the use of your time 
when you arrived here I would have been strongly 
opposed to such a course. Knowledge in itself is mere 

He had one of those bearded Russian faces without 
shape, a mere appearance of flesh and hair with not a 
single feature having any sort of character. His eyes 
being hidden by the dark glasses there was an utter 
absence of all expression. I knew him by sight. He 
was a Russian refugee of mark. All Geneva knew his 
burly black-coated figure. At one time all Europe was 
aware of the story of his life written by himself and 
translated into seven or more languages. In his youth 
he had led an idle, dissolute life. Then a society girl 
he was about to marry died suddenly and thereupon he 
abandoned the world of fashion, and began to conspire in 
a spirit of repentance, and, after that, his native autocracy 
took good care that the usual things should happen to 
him. He was imprisoned in fortresses, beaten within 
an inch of his life, and condemned to work in mines, with 
common criminals. The great success of his book, 
however, was the chain. 

I do not remember now the details of the weight 
and length of the fetters riveted on his limbs by an 
" Administrative " order, but it was in the number of 
pounds and the thickness of links an appalling assertion 
of the divine right of autocracy. Appalling and futile 
too, because this big man managed to carry off that 
simple engine of government with him into the woods. 
The sensational clink of these fetters is heard all through 
the chapters describing his escape — a subject of wonder 
to two continents. He had begun by concealing himself 
successfully from his guard in a hole on a river bank. It 
was the end of the day ; with infinite labour he managed 
to free one of his legs. Meantime night fell. He was 


going to begin on his other leg when he was overtaken 
by a terrible misfortune. He dropped his file. 

All this is precise yet symbolic ; and the file had its 
pathetic history. It was given to him unexpectedly one 
evening, by a quiet, pale-faced girl. The poor creature 
had come out to the mines to join one of his fellow 
convicts, a delicate young man, a mechanic and a social 
democrat, with broad cheekbones and large staring eyes. 
She had worked her way across half Russia and nearly 
the whole of Siberia to be near him, and, as it seems, 
with the hope of helping him to escape. But she arrived 
too late. Her lover had died only a week before. 

Through that obscure episode, as he says, in the 
history of ideas in Russia, the file came into his hands, 
and inspired him with an ardent resolution to regain his 
liberty. When it slipped through his fingers it was as if 
it had gone straight into the earth. He could by no 
manner of means put his hand on it again in the dark. 
He groped systematically in the loose earth, in the mud, 
in the water ; the night was passing meantime, the 
precious night on which he counted to get away into 
the forests, his only chance of escape. For a moment 
he was tempted by despair to give up ; but recalling the 
quiet, sad face of the heroic girl, he felt profoundly 
ashamed of his weakness. She had selected him for the 
gift of liberty and he must show himself worthy of the 
favour conferred by her feminine, indomitable soul. It 
appeared to be a sacred trust. To fail would have been 
a sort of treason against the sacredness of self-sacrifice 
and womanly love. 

There are in his book whole pages of self-analysis 
whence emerges like a white figure from a dark con- 
fused sea the conviction of woman's spiritual superiority 
— his new faith confessed since in several volumes. His 
first tribute to it, the great act of his conversion, was his 


extraordinary existence in the endless forests of the 
Okhotsk Province, with the loose end of the chain 
wound about his waist. A strip torn off his convict 
shirt secured the end firmly. Other strips fastened it 
at intervals up his left leg to deaden the clanking and 
to prevent the slack links from getting hooked in the 
bushes. He became very fierce. He developed an 
unsuspected genius for the arts of a wild and hunted 
existence. He learned to creep into villages without 
betraying his presence by anything more than an oc- 
casional faint jingle. He broke into outhouses with an 
axe he managed to purloin in a wood-cutters' camp. In 
the deserted tracts of country he lived on wild berries 
and hunted for honey. His clothing dropped off him 
gradually. His naked tawny figure glimpsed vaguely 
through the bushes with a cloud of mosquitoes and 
flies hovering about the shaggy head, spread tales of 
terror through whole districts. His temper grew savage 
as the days went by, and he was glad to discover that 
that there was so much of a brute in him. He had 
nothing else to put his trust in. For it was as though 
there had been two human beings indissolubly joined in 
that enterprise. The civilized man, the enthusiast of 
advanced humanitarian ideals thirsting for the triumph 
of spiritual love and political liberty ; and the stealthy, 
primeval savage, pitilessly cunning in the preservation of 
his freedom from day to day, like a tracked wild beast. 

The wild beast was making its way instinctively 
eastward to the Pacific coast, and the civilized humani- 
tarian in fearful anxious dependence watched the pro- 
ceedings with awe. Through all these weeks he could 
never make up his mind to appeal to human compassion. 
In the wary primeval savage this shyness might have 
been natural, but the other too, the civilized creature, 
the thinker, the escaping " political " had developed an 


absurd form of morbid pessimism, a form of temporary- 
insanity, originating perhaps in the physical worry and 
discomfort of the chain. These links, he fancied, made 
him odious to the rest of mankind. It was a repugnant 
and suggestive load. Nobody could feel any pity at 
the disgusting sight of a man escaping with a broken 
chain. His imagination became affected by his fetters 
in a precise, matter-of-fact manner. It seemed to him 
impossible that people could resist the temptation of 
fastening the loose end to a staple in the wall while they 
went for the nearest police official. Crouching in holes 
or hidden in thickets, he had tried to read the faces of 
unsuspecting free settlers working in the clearings or 
passing along the paths within a foot or two of his eyes. 
His feeling was that no man on earth could be trusted 
with the temptation of the chain. 

One day, however, he chanced to come upon a 
solitary woman. It was on an open slope of rough grass 
outside the forest. She sat on the bank of a narrow 
stream ; she had a red handkerchief on her head and a 
small basket was lying on the ground near her hand. 
At a little distance could be seen a cluster of log cabins, 
with a water-mill over a dammed pool shaded by birch 
trees and looking bright as glass in the twilight. He 
approached her silently, his hatchet stuck in his iron 
belt, a thick cudgel in his hand ; there were leaves and 
bits of twig in his tangled hair, in his matted beard ; 
bunches of rags he had wound round the links fluttered 
from his waist. A faint clink of his fetters made the 
woman turn her head. Too terrified by this savage 
apparition to jump up or even to scream, she was yet 
too stout-hearted to faint. . . . Expecting nothing less 
than to be murdered on the spot she covered her eyes 
with her hands to avoid the sight of the descending axe. 
When at last she found courage to look again, she saw 


the shaggy wild man sitting on the bank six feet away 
from her. His thin, sinewy arms hugged his naked legs ; 
the long beard covered the knees on which he rested his 
chin ; all these clasped, folded limbs, the bare shoulders, 
the wild head with red staring eyes, shook and trembled 
violently while the bestial creature was making efforts to 
speak. It was six weeks since he had heard the sound 
of his own voice. It seemed as though he had lost the 
faculty of speech. He had become a dumb and despair- 
ing brute, till the woman's sudden, unexpected cry of 
profound pity, the insight of her feminine compassion 
discovering the complex misery of the man under the 
terrifying aspect of the monster, restored him to the 
ranks of humanity. This point of view is presented in 
his book, with a very effective eloquence. She ended, 
he says, by shedding tears over him, sacred, redeeming 
tears, while he also wept with joy in the manner of a 
converted sinner. Directing him to hide in the bushes 
and wait patiently (a police patrol was expected in the 
Settlement) she went away towards the houses, promising 
to return at night. 

As if providentially appointed to be the newly 
wedded wife of the village blacksmith, the woman 
persuaded her husband to come out with her, bringing 
some tools of his trade, a hammer, a chisel, a small 
anvil. ..." My fetters " — the book says — " were struck 
off on the banks of the stream, in the starlight of a calm 
night by an athletic, taciturn young man of the people, 
kneeling at my feet, while the woman like a liberating 
genius stood by with clasped hands." Obviously a 
symbolic couple. At the same time they furnished his 
regained humanity with some decent clothing, and put 
heart into the new man by the information that the sea- 
coast of the Pacific was only a very few miles away. It 
could be seen, in fact, from the top of the next ridge. . . . 


The rest of his escape does not lend itself to mystic 
treatment and symbolic interpretation. He ended by 
finding his way to the West by the Suez Canal route 
in the usual manner. Reaching- the shores of South 
Europe he sat down to write his autobiography — the 
great literary success of its year. This book was 
followed by other books written with the declared 
purpose of elevating humanity. In these works he 
preached generally the cult of the woman. For his 
own part he practised it under the rites of special 
devotion to the transcendental merits of a certain 

Madame de S , a lady of advanced views, no longer 

very young, once upon a time the intriguing wife of a 
now dead and forgotten diplomat. Her loud pretensions 
to be one of the leaders of modern thought and oi 
modern sentiment, she sheltered (like Voltaire and 
Mme. de Stael) on the republican territory of Geneva. 
Driving through the streets in her big landau she 
exhibited to the indifference of the natives and the 
stares of the tourists a long-waisted, youthful figure of 
hieratic stiffness, with a pair of big gleaming eyes, 
rolling restlessly behind a short veil of black lace, v^^hich, 
coming down no further than her vividly red lips, 
resembled a mask. Usually the " heroic fugitive " (this 
name was bestowed upon him in a review of the English 
edition of his book) — the " heroic fugitive " accompanied 
her, sitting, portentously bearded and darkly bespectacled, 
not by her side, but opposite her, with his back to the 
horses. Thus, facing each other, with no one else in the 
roomy carriage, their airings suggested a conscious public 
manifestation. Or it may have been unconscious. 
Russian simplicity often marches innocently on the edge 
of cynicism for some lofty purpose. But it is a vain 
enterprise for sophisticated Europe to try and under- 
stand these doings. Considering the air of gravity 


extending even to the physiognomy of the coachman 
and the action of the showy horses, this quaint display 
might have possessed a mystic significance, but to the 
corrupt frivoHty of a Western mind, Hke my own, it 
seemed hardly decent. 

However, it is not becoming for an obscure teacher 
of languages to criticize a " heroic fugitive " of world- 
wide celebrity. I was aware from hearsay that he was 
an industrious busy-body, hunting up his compatriots in 
hotels, in private lodgings, and — I was told — conferring 
upon them the honour of his notice in public gardens 
when a suitable opening presented itself. I was under 
the impression that after a visit or two, several months 
before, he had given up the ladies Haldin — no doubt 
reluctantly, for there could be no question of his being a 
determined person. It was perhaps to be expected that 
he should reappear again on this terrible occasion, as a 
Russian and a revolutionist, to say the right thing, to 
strike the true, perhaps a comforting, note. But I did 
not like to see him sitting there. I trust that an un- 
becoming jealousy of my privileged position had nothing 
to do with it. I made no claim to a special standing 
for my silent friendship. Removed by the difference of 
age and nationality as if into the sphere of another 
existence, I produced, even upon myself, the effect of a 
dumb helpless ghost, of an anxious immaterial thing 
that could only hover about without the power to 
protect or guide by as much as a whisper. Since 
Miss Haldin with her sure instinct had refrained from 
introducing me to the burly celebrity, I would have 
retired quietly and returned later on, had I not met a 
peculiar expression in her eyes which I interpreted as a 
request to stay, with the view, perhaps, of shortening an 
unwelcome visit. 

He picked up his hat, but only to deposit it on his knees. 


" We shall meet again, Natalia Victorovna. To-day 
I have called only to mark those feelings towards your 
honoured mother and yourself, the nature of which you 
cannot doubt. I needed no urging, but Eleanor — Madame 

de S herself has in a way sent me. She extends to 

you the hand of feminine fellowship. There is positively 
in all the range of human sentiments no joy and no 
sorrow that woman cannot understand, elevate, and 
spiritualize by her interpretation. That young man 
newly arrived from St. Petersburg, I have mentioned 
to you, is already under the charm." 

At this point Miss Haldin got up abruptly. I was 
glad. He did not evidently expect anything so decisive 
and, at first, throwing his head back, he tilted up his dark 
glasses with bland curiosity. At last, recollecting him- 
self, he stood up hastily, seizing his hat off his knees with 
great adroitness. 

" How is it, Natalia Victorovna, that you have kept 
aloof so long, from what after all is — let disparaging 
tongues say what they like — a unique centre of in- 
tellectual freedom and of effort to shape a high con- 
ception of our future? In the case of your honoured 
mother I understand in a measure. At her age new 
ideas — new faces are not perhaps. ... But you ! Was 
it mistrust — or indifference ? You must come out of 
your reserve. We Russians have no right to be reserved 
with each other. In our circumstances it is almost a 
crime against humanity. The luxury of private grief is 
not for us. Nowadays the devil is not combated by 
prayers and fasting. And what is fasting after all but 
starvation. You must not starve yourself, Natalia Vic- 
torovna. Strength is what we want. Spiritual strength, 
I mean. As to the other kind, what could withstand us 
Russians if we only put it forth ? Sin is different in our 
day, and the way of salvation for pure souls is different 


too. It is no longer to be found in monasteries but in 
the world, in the . . ." 

The deep sound seemed to rise from under the floor, 
and one felt steeped in it to the lips. Miss Haldin's 
interruption resembled the effort of a drowning person to 
keep above water. She struck in with an accent of 
impatience — 

" But, Peter Ivanovitch, I don't mean to retire into a 
monastery. Who would look for salvation there ? " 

" I spoke figuratively," he boomed. 

" Well, then, I am speaking figuratively too. But 
sorrow is sorrow and pain is pain in the old way. They 
make their demands upon people. One has got to face 
them the best way one can. I know that the blow 
which has fallen upon us so unexpectedly is only an 
episode in the fate of a people. You may rest as- 
sured that I don't forget that. But just now I have to 
think of my mother. How can you expect me to leave 
her to herself . . . ? " 

" That is putting it in a very crude way," he pro- 
tested in his great effortless voice. 

Miss Haldin did not wait for the vibration to die 

" And run about visiting amongst a lot of strange 
people. The idea is distasteful for me ; and I do not 
know what else you may mean ? " 

He towered before her, enormous, deferential, cropped 
as close as a convict ; and this big pinkish poll evoked 
for me the vision of a wild head with matted locks 
peering through parted bushes, glimpses of naked, tawny 
limbs slinking behind the masses of sodden foliage under 
a cloud of flies and mosquitoes. It was an involuntary 
tribute to the vigour of his writing. Nobody could 
doubt that he had wandered in Siberian forests, naked 
and girt with a chain. The black broadcloth coat in- 


vested his person with a character of austere decency 
— something recalling a missionary. 

" Do you know what I want, Natalia Victorovna ? " 
he uttered solemnly. " I want you to be a fanatic." 

" A fanatic ? " 

" Yes. Faith alone won't do." 

His voice dropped to a still lower tone. He raised 
for a moment one thick arm ; the other remained hang- 
ing down against his thigh, with the fragile silk hat at 
the end. 

" I shall tell you now something which I entreat you 
to ponder over carefully. Listen, we need a force that 
would move heaven and earth — nothing less." 

The profound, subterranean note of this " nothing 
less " made one shudder, almost, like the deep muttering 
of wind in the pipes of an organ. 

" And are we to find that force in the salon of 

Madame de S ? Excuse me, Peter Ivanovitch, if I 

permit myself to doubt it. Is not that lady a woman 
of the great world, an aristocrat ? " 

" Prejudice ! " he cried. " You astonish me. And 
suppose she was all that ! She is also a woman of flesh 
and blood. There is always something to weigh down 
the spiritual side in all of us. But to make of it a re- 
proach is what I did not expect from you. No ! I did 
not expect that. One would think you have listened to 
some malevolent scandal." 

" I have heard no gossip, I assure you. In our 
province how could we ? But the world speaks of her. 
What can there be in common in a lady of that sort and 
an obscure country girl like me ? " 

" She is a perpetual mar.ifestation of a noble and 
peerless spirit," he broke in. " Her charm — no, I shall 
not speak of her charm. But, of course, everybody who 
approaches her falls under the spell. . . . Contradic- 


tions vanish, trouble falls away from one. . . . Unless 
I am mistaken — but I never make a mistake in spiritual 
matters — you are troubled in your soul, Natalia 

Miss Haldin's clear eyes looked straight at his soft 
enormous face ; 1 received the impression that behind 
these dark spectacles of his he could be as impudent as 
he chose, 

" Only the other evening walking back to town from 
Chateau Borel with our latest interesting arrival from 
Petersburg, I could notice the powerful soothing influence 
— I may say reconciling influence. . . . There he was, 
all these kilometres along the shores of the lake, silent, 
like a man who has been shown the way of peace, I 
could feel the leaven working in his soul, you understand. 
For one thing he listened to me patiently, I myself was 
inspired that ev^ening by the firm and exquisite genius of 

Eleanor — Madame de S , you know. It was a full 

moon and I could observe his face. I cannot be de- 
ceived, . . ." 

Miss Haldin, looking down, seemed to hesitate. 

" Well ! I will think of what you said, Peter Ivano- 
vitch. I shall try to call as soon as I can leave mother 
for an hour or two safely." 

Coldly as these words were said I was amazed at 
the concession. He snatched her right hand with such 
fervour'that I thought he was going to press it to his lips 
or his breast. But he only held it by the finger-tips in 
his great paw and shook it a little up and down while he 
delivered his last volley of words, 

" That's right. That's right. I haven't obtained 
your full confidence as yet, Natalia Victorovna, but that 
will come. All in good time. The sister of Viktor 
Haldin cannot be without importance, . . , It's simply 
impossible. And no woman can remain sitting on the 


steps. Flowers, tears, applause — that has had its time ; 
it's a mediaeval conception. The arena, the arena itself 
is the place for women ! " 

He relinquished her hand with a flourish, as if giving 
it to her for a gift, and remained still, his head bowed 
in dignified submission before her femininity. 

" The arena ! . . . You must descend into the arena, 

He made one step backwards, inclined his enormous 
body, and was gone swiftly. The door fell to behind him. 
But immediately the powerful resonance of his voice was 
heard addressing in the ante - room the middle - aged 
servant woman who was letting him out. Whether he 
exhorted her too to descend into the arena I cannot tell. 
The thing sounded like a lecture, and the slight crash of 
the outer door cut it short suddenly. 


We remained looking at each other for a time. 

" Do you know who he is ? " 

Miss Haldin, coming forward, put this question to 
me in English. 

I took her offered hand. 

" Everybody knows. He is a revolutionary feminist, 
a great writer, if you like, and — how shall I say it — the 

— the familiar guest of Madame de S 's mystic 

revolutionary salon." 

Miss Haldin passed her hand over her forehead. 

" You know, he was with me for more than an hour 
before you came in. I was so glad mother was lying 
down. She has many nights without sleep, and then 
sometimes in the middle of the day she gets a rest of 
several hours. It is sheer exhaustion — but still, I am 
thankful. . . . If it were not for these intervals. . . ." 


She looked at me and, with that extraordinary pene- 
tration which used to disconcert me, shook her head. 

" No. She would not go mad." 

" My dear young lady," I cried, by way of protest, 
the more shocked because in my heart I was far from 
thinking Mrs. Haldin quite sane. 

" You don't know what a fine, lucid intellect mother 
had," continued Nathalie Haldin, with her calm, clear- 
eyed simplicity, which seemed to me always to have a 
quality of heroism. 

" I am sure ..." I murmured. 

" I darkened mother's room and came out here. I've 
wanted for so long to think quietly." 

She paused, then, without giving any sign of distress, 
added, " It's so difficult," and looked at me with a 
strange fixity, as if watching for a sign of dissent or 

I gave neither. I was irresistibly impelled to say — 

" The visit from that gentleman has not made it any 
easier, I fear." 

Miss Haldin stood before me with a peculiar expres- 
sion in her eyes. 

" I don't pretend to understand Peter Ivanovitch 
completely. Some guide one must have, even if one 
does not wholly give up the direction of one's conduct 
' to him. I am an inexperienced girl, but I am not 
slavish. There has been too much of that in Russia. 
Why should I not listen to him ? There is no harm in 
having one's thoughts directed. But I don't mind con- 
fessing to you that I have not been completely candid 
with Peter Ivanovitch. I don't quite know what pre- 
vented me at the moment . , ." 

She walked away suddenly from me to a distant part 
of the room ; but it was only to open and shut a drawer 
in a bureau. She returned with a piece of paper in her 


hand. It was thin and blackened with close handwriting. 
It was obviously a letter. 

" I wanted to read you the very words," she said. 
" This is one of my poor brother's letters. He never 
doubted. How could he doubt ? They make only such 
a small handful, these miserable oppressors, before the 
unanimous will of our people." 

" Your brother believed in the power of a people's 
will to achieve anything ? " 

" It was his religion," declared Miss Haldin. 

I looked at her calm face and her animated eyes. 

" Of course the will must be awakened, inspired, 
concentrated," she went on. " That is the true task of 
real agitators. One has got to give up one's life to it. 
The degradation of servitude, the absolutist lies must be 
uprooted and swept out. Reform is impossible. There 
is nothing to reform. There is no legality, there are no 
institutions. There are only arbitrary decrees. There is 
only a handful of cruel — perhaps blind — officials against 
a nation." 

The letter rustled slightly in her hand. I glanced 
down at the flimsy blackened pages whose very hand- 
writing seemed cabalistic, incomprehensible to the experi- 
ence of Western Europe. 

" Stated like this," I confessed, " the problem seems 
simple enough. But I fear I shall not see it solved. 
And if you go back to Russia I know that I shall not 
see you again. Yet once more I say : go back ! Don't 
suppose that I am thinking of your preservation. No ! 
I know that you will not be returning to personal safety. 
But I had much rather think of you in danger there than 
see you exposed to what may be met here." 

" I tell you what," said Miss Haldin, after a moment 
of reflection. " 1 believe that you hate revolution ; you 
fancy it's not quite honest. You belong to a people 



which has made a bargain with fate' and wouldn't like to 
be rude to it. But we have made no bargain. It was 
never offered to us — so much liberty for so much hard 
cash. You shrink from the idea of revolutionary action 
for those you think well of as if it were something — how 
shall I say it — not quite decent." 

I bowed my head. 

" You are quite right," I said. " I think very highly 
of you." 

" Don't suppose I do not know it," she began 
hurriedly. " Your friendship has been very valuable." 

" I have done little else but look on." 

She was a little flushed under the eyes. 

" There is a way of looking on which is valuable. 
I have felt less lonely because of it. It's difficult to 

" Really ? Well, I too have felt less lonely. That's 
easy to explain, though. But it won't go on much longer. 
The last thing I want to tell you is this : in a real revolu- 
tion — not a simple dynastic change or a mere reform of 
institutions — in a real revolution the best characters do 
not come to the front. A violent revolution falls into 
the hands of narrow-minded fanatics and of tyrannical 
hypocrites at first. Afterwards comes the turn of all the 
pretentious intellectual failures of the time. Such are 
the chiefs and the leaders. You will notice that I have 
left out the mere rogues. The scrupulous and the just, 
the noble, humane, and devoted natures ; the unselfish 
and the intelligent may begin a movement — but it 
passes away from them. They are not the leaders of a 
revolution. They are its victims : the victims of disgust, 
of disenchantment — often of remorse. Hopes grotesquely 
betrayed, ideals caricatured — that is the definition of 
revolutionary success. There have been in every revolu- 
tion hearts broken by such successes. But enough of 


that. My meaning is that I don't want you to be a 

" If I could believe all you have said I still wouldn't 
think of myself," protested Miss Haldin. " I would take 
liberty from any hand as a hungry man would snatch at 
a piece of bread. The true progress must begin after. 
And for that the right men shall be found. They are 
already amongst us. One comes upon them in their 
obscurity, unknown, preparing themselves. . . ." 

She spread out the letter she had kept in her hand 
all the time, and looking down at it — 

" Yes ! One comes upon such men ! " she repeated, 
and then read out the words, " Unstained, lofty, and 
solitary existences." 

Folding up the letter, while I looked at her interrogat- 
ively, she explained — 

" These are the words which my brother applies to 
a young man he came to know in St. Petersburg. An 
intimate friend, i suppose. It must be. His is the only 
name my brother mentions in all his correspondence 
with me. Absolutely the only one, and — would you 
believe it ? — the man is here. He arrived recently in 

" Have you seen him ? " I inquired. " But, of 
course, you must have seen hirr?." 

" No ! No ! I haven't ! I didn't know he was 
here. It's Peter Ivanovitch himself who told me. You 
have heard him yourself mentioning a new arrival from 
Petersburg. . . . Well, that is the man of ' unstained, 
lofty, and solitary existence.' My brother's friend ! " 

" Compromised politically, I suppose," I remarked. 

" I don't know. Yes. It must be so. Who knows ! 
Perhaps it was this very friendship with my brother 
which . . . But no ! It is scarcely possible. Really, I 
know nothing except what Peter Ivanovitch told me of 


him. He has brought a letter of introduction from Father 
Zosim — you know, the priest-democrat ; you have heard 
of Father Zosim ? " 

*' Oh yes. The famous Father Zosim was staying 
here in Geneva for some two months about a year ago," 
I said. " When he left here he seems to have disappeared 
from the world." 

" It appears that he is at work in Russia again. 
Somewhere in the centre," Miss Haldin said, with anima- 
tion. " But please don't mention that to any one — don't 
let it slip from you, because if it got into the papers it 
would be dangerous for him." 

" You are anxious, of course, to meet that friend of 
your brother ? " I asked. 

Miss Haldin put the letter into her pocket. Her 
eyes looked beyond my shoulder at the door of her 
mother's room. 

" Not here," she murmured. " Not for the first time, 
at least." 

After a moment of silence I said good-bye, but Miss 
Haldin followed me into the ante-room, closing the door 
behind us carefully. 

" I suppose you guess where I mean to go to- 
morrow ? " 

" You have made up your mind to call on Madame 
de S ." 

" Yes. I am going to the Chateau Borel. I must." 

" What do you expect to hear there ? " I asked, in a 
low voice. 

I wondered if she were not deluding herself with 
some impossible hope. It was not that, however. 

" Only think — such a friend. The only man men- 
tioned in his letters. He would have something to give 
me, if nothing more than a few poor words. It may be 
something said and thought in those last days. Would 


you want me to turn my back on what is left of my poor 
brother — a friend ? " 

" Certainly not," I said. "I quite understand your 
pious curiosity." 

" — Unstained, lofty, and solitary existences," she 
murmured to herself. " There are ! There are ! Well, 
let me question one of them about the loved dead." 

" How do you know, though, that you will meet him 
there ? Is he staying in the Chateau as a guest — do you 
suppose ? " 

" I can't really tell," she confessed. " He brought a 
written introduction from Father Zosim — who, it seems, 

is a friend of Madame de S too. She can't be such 

a worthless woman after all." 

" There were all sorts of rumours afloat about Father 
Zosim himself," I observed. 

She shrugged her shoulders. 

" Calumny is a weapon of our government too. It's 
well known. Oh yes! It is a fact that Father Zosim 
had the protection of the Governor-General of a certain 
province. We talked on the subject with my brother 
two years ago, I remember. But his work was good. 
And now he is proscribed. What better proof can one 
require. But no matter what that priest was or is. All 
that cannot affect my brother's friend. If I don't meet 
him there I shall ask these people for his address. And, 
of course, mother must see him too, later on. There is 
no guessing what he may have to tell us. It would be 
a mercy if mamma could be soothed. You know what 
she imagines. Some explanation perhaps may be found, 
or — or even made up, perhaps. It would be no sin." 

" Certainly," I said, " it would be no sin. It may be 
a mistake, though." 

" I want her only to recover some of her old spirit. 
While she is like this I cannot think of anything calmly." 


" Do you mean to invent some sort of pious fraud 
for your mother's sake ? " I asked. 

" Why fraud ? Such a friend is sure to know some- 
thing of my brother in these last days. He could tell 
us. . . . There is something in the facts which will not 
let me rest. I am certain he meant to join us abroad — 
that he had some plans — some great patriotic action in 
view ; not only for himself, but for both of us. I trusted 
in that. I looked forward to the time ! Oh ! with such 
hope and impatience. ... I could have helped. And 
now suddenly this appearance of recklessness — as if he 
had not cared. ..." 

She remained silent for a time, then obstinately she 
concluded — 

" I want to know . . ." 

Thinking it over, later on, while I walked slowly 
away from the Boulevard des Philosophes, I asked my- 
self critically, what precisely was it that she wanted to 
know ? What I had heard of her history was enough to 
give me a clue. In the educational establishment for girls 
where Miss Haldin finished her studies she was looked 
upon rather unfavourably. She was suspected of hold- 
ing independent views on matters settled by official 
teaching. Afterwards, when the two ladies returned to 
their country place, both mother and daughter, by 
speaking their minds openly on public events, had earned 
for themselves a reputation of liberalism. The three- 
horse trap of the district police-captain began to be seen 
frequently in their village. " I must keep an eye on the 
peasants" — so he explained his visits up at the house. 
" Two lonely ladies must be looked after a little." He 
would inspect the walls as though he wanted to pierce 
them with his eyes, peer at the photographs, turn over 
the books in the drawing-room negligently, and after the 
usual refreshments, would depart. But the old priest of 


the village came one evening in the greatest distress 
and agitation, to confess that he — the priest — had been 
ordered to watch and ascertain in other ways too (such 
as using his spiritual power with the servants) all that 
was going on in the house, and especially in respect of 
the visitors these ladies received, who they were, the 
length of their stay, whether any of them were strangers 
to that part of the country, and so on. The poor, simple 
old man was in an agony of humiliation and terror. " I 
came to warn you. Be cautious in your conduct, for the 
love of God. I am burning with shame, but there is no 
getting out from under the net. I shall have to tell 
them what I see, because if I did not there is my deacon. 
He would make the worst of things to curry favour. 
And then my son-in-law, the husband of my Parasha, 
who is a writer in the Government Domain office ; they 
would soon kick him out — and maybe send him away 
somewhere." The old man lamented the necessities of 
the times — " when people do not agree somehow " and 
wiped his eyes. He did not wish tc! spend the evening 
of his days with a shaven head in the penitent's cell of 
some monastery — " and subjected to all the severities of 
ecclesiastical discipline ; for they would show no mercy to 
an old man," he groaned. He became almost hysterical, 
and the two ladies, full of commiseration, soothed him the 
best they could before they let him go back to his 
cottage. But, as a matter of fact, they had very few 
visitors. The neighbours — some of them old friends — 
began to keep away ; a few from timidity, others with 
marked disdain, being grand people that came only for 
the summer — Miss Haldin explained to me — aristocrats, 
reactionaries. It was a solitary existence for a young 
girl. Her relations with her mother were of the tenderest 
and most open kind ; but Mrs. Haldin had seen the 
experiences of her own generation, its sufferings, its 


deceptions, its apostasies too. Her affection for her 
children was expressed by the suppression of all signs of 
anxiety. She maintained a heroic reserve. To Nathalie 
Haldin, her brother with his Petersburg existence, not 
enigmatical in the least (there could be no doubt of what 
he felt or thought) but conducted a little mysteriously, 
was the only visible representative of a proscribed liberty. 
All the significance of freedom, its indefinite promises, 
lived in their long discussions, which breathed the loftiest 
hope of action and faith in success. Then, suddenly, the 
action, the hopes, came to an end with the details ferreted 
out by the English journalist. The concrete fact, the 
fact of his death remained ! but it remained obscure in 
its deeper causes. She felt herself abandoned without 
explanation. But she did not suspect him. What she 
wanted was to learn almost at any cost how she could 
remain faithful to his departed spirit. 


Several days elapsed before I met Nathalie Haldin 
again. I was crossing the place in front of the theatre 
when I made out her shapely figure in the very act of 
turning between the gate pillars of the unattractive public 
promenade of the Bastions. She walked away from me, 
but I knew we should meet as she returned down the 
main alley — unless, indeed, she were going home. In 
that case, I don't think I should have called on her yet. 
My desire to keep her away from these people was as 
strong as ever, but I had no illusions as to my power. I 
was but a Westerner, and it was clear that Miss Haldin 
would not, could not listen to my wisdom ; and as to my 
desire of listening to her voice, it were better, I thought, 
not to indulge overmuch in that pleasure. No, I should 


not have gone to the Boulevard des Philosophes ; but 
when at about the middle of the principal alley I saw 
Miss Haldin coming towards me, I was too curious, and 
too honest, perhaps, to run away. 

There was something of the spring harshness in the 
air. The blue sky was hard, but the young leaves clung 
like soft mist about the uninteresting range of trees; and 
the clear sun put little points of gold into the grey of 
Miss Haldin's frank eyes, turned to me with a friendly 

I inquired after the health of her mother. 

She had a slight movement of the shoulders and a 
little sad sigh. 

" But, you see, I did come out for a walk ... for 
exercise, as you English say." 

I smiled approvingly, and she added an unexpected 
remark — 

" It is a glorious day." 

Her voice, slightly harsh, but Vascinating with its 
masculine and bird-like quality, had the accent of spon- 
taneous conviction. I was glad of it. It was as though 
she had become aware of her youth — for there was but 
little of spring-like glory in the rectangular railed space 
of grass and trees, framed visibly by the orderly roof- 
slopes of that town, comely without grace, and hospitable 
without sympathy. In the very air through which she 
moved there was but little warmth ; and the sky, the 
sky of a land without horizons, swept and washed clean 
by the April showers, extended a cold cruel blue, without 
elevation, narrowed suddenly by the ugly, dark wall of 
the Jura where, here and there, lingered yet a few 
miserable trails and patches of snow. All the glory of 
the season must have been within herself — and I was 
glad this feeling had come into her life, if only for a little 


" I am pleased to hear you say these words." 
She gave me a quick look. Quick, not stealthy. 
If there was one thing of which she was absolutely 
incapable, it was stealthiness. Her sincerity was ex- 
pressed in the very rhythm of her walk. It was I who 
was looking at her covertly — if I may say so. I knew 
where she had been, but I did not know what she had 
seen and heard in that nest of aristocratic conspiracies. 
I use the word aristocratic, for want of a better term. 
The Chateau Borel, embowered in the trees and thickets 
of its neglected grounds, had its fame in our day, like 
the residence of that other dangerous and exiled woman, 
Madame de Stael, in the Napoleonic era. Only the 
Napoleonic despotism, the booted heir of the Revolution, 
which counted that intellectual woman for an enemy 
worthy to be watched, was something quite unlike the 
autocracy in mystic vestments, engendered by the slavery 

of a Tartar conquest. And Madame de S was very 

far from resembling the gifted author of Corimie. She 
made a great noise about being persecuted. I don't 
know if she were regarded in certain circles as dangerous. 
As to being watched, I imagine that the Chateau Borel 
could be subjected only to a most distant observation. 
It was in its exclusiveness an ideal abode for hatching 
superior plots — whether serious or futile. But all this 
did not interest me. I wanted to know the effect its 
extraordinary inhabitants and its special atmosphere had 
produced on a girl like Miss Haldin, so true, so honest, 
but so dangerously inexperienced ! Her unconsciously 
lofty ignorance of the baser instincts of mankind left 
her disarmed before her own impulses. And there was 
also that friend of her brother, the significant new arrival 
from Russia. ... I wondered whether she had managed 
to meet him. 

We walked for some time, slowly and in silence. 


" You know," I attacked her suddenly, " if you don't 
intend telling me anything, you must say so distinctly, 
and then, of course, it shall be final. But I won't play 
at delicacy. I ask you point-blank for all the details." 

She smiled faintly at my threatening tone. 

" You are as curious as a child." 

" No. I am only an anxious old man," I replied 

She rested her glance on me as if to ascertain the 
degree of my anxiety or the number of my years. My 
physiognomy has never been expressive, I believe, and 
as to my years I am not ancient enough as yet to be 
strikingly decrepit. I have no long beard like the good 
hermit of a romantic ballad ; my footsteps are not totter- 
ing, my aspect not that of a slow, venerable sage. Those 
picturesque advantages are not mine. I /im old, alas, in 
a brisk, commonplace way. And it seemed to me as 
though there were some pity for me in Miss Haldin's 
prolonged glance. She stepped out a little quicker. 

" You ask for all the details. Let me see. I ought 
to remember them. It was novel enough for a — a 
village girl like me." 

After a moment of silence she began by saying that 
the Chateau Borel was almost as neglected inside as 
outside. It was nothing to wonder at. A Hamburg 
banker, I believe, retired from business, had it built to 
cheer his remaining days by the view of that lake whose 
precise, orderly, and well-to-do beauty must have been 
attractive to the unromantic imagination of a business 
man. But he died soon. His wife departed too (but 
only to Italy), and this house of moneyed ease, presum- 
ably unsaleable, had stood empty for several years. One 
went to it up a gravel drive, round a large, coarse grass- 
plot, with plenty of time to observe the degradation of 
its stuccoed front. Miss Haldin said that the impression 


was unpleasant. It grew more depressing as one came 

She observed green stains of moss on the steps of 
the terrace. The front door stood wide open. There 
was no one about. She found herself in a wide, lofty, 
and absolutely empty hall, with a good many doors. 
These doors were all shut. A broad, bare stone staircase 
faced her, and the effect of the whole was of an un- 
tenanted house. She stood still, disconcerted by the 
solitude, but after a while she became aware of a voice 
speaking continuously somewhere. 

" You were probably being observed all the time," I 
suggested. " There must have been eyes." 

" I don't see how that could be," she retorted. " I 
haven't seen even a bird in the grounds. I don't 
remember hearing a single twitter in the trees. The 
whole place appeared utterly deserted except for the 

She could not make out the language — Russian, 
French, or German. No one seemed to answer it. 
It was as though the voice had been left behind by 
the departed inhabitants to talk to the bare walls. It 
went on volubly, with a pause now and then. It was 
lonely and sad. The time seemed very long to Miss 
Haldin. An invincible repugnance prevented her from 
opening one of the doors in the hall. It was so hope- 
less. No one would come, the voice would never stop. 
She confessed to me that she had to resist an impulse 
to turn round and go away unseen, as she had come. 

"Really? You had that impulse?" I cried, full of 
regret. " What a pity you did not obey it." 

She shook her head. 

" What a strange memory it would have been for 
one. Those deserted grounds, that empty hall, that im- 
personal, voluble voice, and — nobody, nothing, not a soul." 


The memory would have been unique and harmless. 
But she was not a girl to run away from an intimidating 
impression of solitude and mystery. " No, I did not run 
away," she said. " I stayed where I was — and I did see 
.a soul. Such a strange soul." 

As she was gazing up the broad staircase, and had 
concluded that the voice came from somewhere above, a 
rustle of dress attracted her attention. She looked down 
and saw a woman crossing the hall, having issued 
apparently through one of the many doors. Her face 
was averted, so that at first she was not aware of Miss 

On turning her head and seeing a stranger, she 
appeared very much startled. From her slender figure 
Miss Haldin had taken her for a young girl ; but if her 
face was almost childishly round, it was also sallow and 
wrinkled, with dark rings under the eyes. A thick crop 
of dusty brown hair was parted boyishly on the side 
with a lateral wave above the dry, furrowed forehead. 
After a moment of dumb blinking, she suddenly squatted 
down on the floor. 

" What do you mean by squatted down ? " I asked, 
astonished. " This is a very strange detail." 

Miss Haldin explained the reason. This person when 
first seen was carrying a small bowl in her hand. She 
had squatted down to put it on the floor for the benefit 
of a large cat, which appeared then from behind her 
skirts, and hid its head into the bowl greedily. She got 
up, and approaching Miss Haldin asked with nervous 
bluntness — 

" What do you want ? Who are you ? " 

Miss Haldin mentioned her name and also the name 
of Peter Ivanovitch. The girlish, elderly woman nodded 
and puckered her face into a momentary expression of 
sympathy. Her black silk blouse was old and even 


frayed in places ; the black serge skirt was short and 
shabby. She continued to blink at close quarters, and 
her eyelashes and eyebrows seemed shabby too. Miss 
Haldin, speaking gently to her, as if to an unhappy and 
sensitive person, explained how it was that her visit 
could not be an altogether unexpected event to Madame 
de S . 

" Ah ! Peter Ivanovitch brought you an invitation. 
How was I to know ? A dame de compagnie is not 
consulted, as you may imagine." 

The shabby woman laughed a little. Her teeth, 
splendidly white and admirably even, looked absurdly 
out of place, like a string of pearls on the neck of a 
ragged tramp. " Peter Ivanovitch is the greatest genius 
of the century perhaps, but he is the most inconsiderate 
man living. So if you have an appointment with him 
you must not be surprised to hear that he is not here." 

Miss Haldin explained that she had no appointment 
with Peter Ivanovitch. She became interested at once 
in that bizarre person, 

" Why should he put himself out for you or any one 
else ? Oh ! these geniuses. If you only knew ! Yes ! 
And their books — I mean, of course, the books that the 
world admires, the inspired books. But you have not 
been behind the scenes. Wait till you have to sit at a 
table for a half a day with a pen in your hand. He can 
walk up and down his rooms for hours and hours. I used 
to get so stiff and numb that I was afraid I would lose 
my balance and fall off the chair all at once." 

She kept her hands folded in front of her, and her 
eyes, fixed on Miss Haldin's face, betrayed no animation 
whatever. Miss Haldin, gathering that the lady who 
called herself a dame de compagnie was proud of having 
acted as secretary to Peter Ivanovitch, made an amiable 


" You could not imagine a more trying experience," 
declared the lady. " There is an Anglo-American 

journalist interviewing Madame de S now, or I would 

take you up," she continued in a changed tone and 
glancing towards the staircase. " I act as master of 

It appeared that Madame de S could not bear 

Swiss servants about her person ; and, indeed, servants 
would not stay for very long in the Chateau Borel. 
There were always difficulties. Miss Haldin had already 
noticed that the hall was like a dusty barn of marble 
and stucco with cobwebs in the corners and faint tracks 
of mud on the black and white tessellated floor. 

" I look also after this animal," continued the dame 
de compagnie, keeping her hands folded quietly in front 
of her; and she bent her worn gaze upon the cat. " I 
don't mind a bit. Animals have their rights ; though, 
strictly speaking, I see no reason why they should not 
suffer as well as human beings. Do you ? But of 
course they never suffer so much. That is impossible. 
Only, in their case it is more pitiful because they cannot 
make a revolution. I used to be a Republican. I 
suppose you are a Republican ? " 

Miss Haldin confessed to me that she did not know 
what to say. But she nodded slightly, and asked in her 
turn — 

" And are you no longer a Republican ? " 

" After taking down Peter Ivanovitch from dictation 
for two years, it is difficult for me to be anything. First 
of all, you have to sit perfectly motionless. The slightest 
movement you make puts to flight the ideas of Peter 
Ivanovitch. You hardly dare to breathe. And as to 
coughing — God forbid ! Peter Ivanovitch changed the 
position of the table to the wall because at first I could 
not help raising my eyes to look out of the window, 


while waiting for him to go on with his dictation. That 
was not allowed. He said I stared so stupidly. I was 
likewise not permitted to look at him over my shoulder. 
Instantly Peter Ivanovitch stamped his foot, and would 
roar, 'Look down on the paper!' It seems my ex- 
pression, my face, put him off. Well, I know that I am 
not beautiful, and that my expression is not hopeful 
either. He said that my air of unintelligent expectation 
irritated him. These are his own words." 

Miss Haldin was shocked, but admitted to me that 
she was not altogether surprised. 

" Is it possible that Peter Ivanovitch could treat any 
woman so rudely ? " she cried. 

The dame de compagnie nodded several times with 
an air of discretion, then assured Miss Haldin that she 
did not mind in the least. The trying part of it was to 
have the secret of the composition laid bare before her ; 
to see the great author of the revolutionary gospels 
grope for words as if he were in the dark as to what he 
meant to say. 

" I am quite willing to be the blind instrument of 
higher ends. To give one's life for the cause is nothing. 
But to have one's illusions destroyed — that is really 
almost more than one can bear. I really don't exagger- 
ate," she insisted. " It seemed to freeze my very beliefs 
in me — the more so that when we worked in winter 
Peter Ivanovitch, walking up and down the room, 
required no artificial heat to keep himself warm. Even 
when we move to the South of France there are bitterly 
cold days, especially when you have to sit still for six 
hours at a stretch. The walls of these villas on the Riviera 
are so flimsy. Peter Ivanovitch did not seem to be aware 
of anything. It is true that I kept down my shivers 
from fear of putting him out. I used to set my teeth till 
my jaws felt absolutely locked. In the moments when 


Peter Ivanovitch interrupted his dictation, and some- 
times these intervals were very long — often twenty 
minutes, no less, while he walked to and fro behind my 
back muttering to himself — I felt I was dying by inches, 
I assure you. Perhaps if I had let my teeth rattle Peter 
Ivanovitch might have noticed my distress, but I don't 
think it would have had any practical effect. She's very 
miserly in such matters." 

The daw. de conipagnie glanced up the staircase. 
The big cat had finished the milk and was rubbing its 
whiskered cheek sinuously against her skirt. She dived 
to snatch it up from the floor. 

" Miserliness is rather a quality than otherwise, you 
know," she continued, holding the cat in her folded arms. 
" With us it is misers who can spare money for worthy 
objects — not the so-called generous natures. But pray 
don't think I am a sybarite. My father was a clerk in 
the Ministry of Finances with no position at all. You 
may guess by this that our home was far from luxurious, 
though of course we did not actually suffer from cold. 
I ran away from my parents, you know, directly I began 
to think by myself. It is not very easy, such thinking. 
One has got to be put in the way of it, awakened to the 
truth. I am indebted for my salvation to an old apple- 
woman, who had her stall under the gateway of the 
house we lived in. She had a kind wrinkled face, and 
the most friendly voice imaginable. One day, casually, 
we began to talk about a child, a ragged little girl we 
had seen begging from men in the streets at dusk ; and 
from one thing to another my eyes began to open 
gradually to the horrors from which innocent people 
are made to suffer in this world, only in order that 
governments might exist. After I once understood the 
crime of the upper classes, I could not go on living with 
my parents. Not a single charitable word was to be 


heard in our home from year's end to year's end ; there 
was nothing but the talk of vile office intrigues, and of 
promotion and of salaries, and of courting the favour of 
the chiefs. The mere idea of marrying one day such 
another man as my father made me shudder. I don't 
mean that there was anyone wanting to marry me. 
There was not the slightest prospect of anything of the 
kind. But was it not sin enough to live on a Govern- 
ment salary while half Russia was dying of hunger ? 
The Ministry of Finances ! What a grotesque horror it 
is ! What does the starving, ignorant people want with 
a Ministry of Finances? I kissed my old folks on both 
cheeks, and went away from them to live in cellars, with 
the proletariat. I tried to make myself useful to the 
utterly hopeless. I suppose you understand what I 
mean ? I mean the people who have nowhere to go and 
nothing to look forward to in this life. Do you under- 
stand how frightful that is — nothing to look forward to ! 
Sometimes I think that it is only in Russia that there 
are such people and such a depth of misery can be 
reached. Well, I plunged into it, and — do you know — 
there isn't much that one can do in there. No, indeed 
— at least as long as there are Ministries of Finances 
and such like grotesque horrors to stand in the way. I 
suppose I would have gone mad there just trying to 
fight the vermin, if it had not been for a man. It was 
my old friend and teacher, the poor saintly apple-woman, 
who discovered him for me, quite accidentally. She 
came to fetch me late one evening in her quiet way. I 
followed her where she would lead ; that part of my life 
was in her hands altogether, and without her my spirit 
would have perished miserably. The man was a young 
workman, a lithographer by trade, and he had got into 
trouble in connexion with that affair of temperance 
tracts — you remember. There was a lot of people put 


in prison for that. The Ministry of Finances again ! 
What would become of it if the poor folk ceased making 
beasts of themselves with drink ? Upon my word, I 
would think that finances and all the rest of it are an 
invention of the devil ; only that a belief in a super- 
natural source 01 evil is not necessary ; men alone 
are quite capable of every wickedness. Finances 
indeed ! " 

Hatred and contempt hissed in her utterance of the 
word " finances," but at the very moment she gently 
stroked the cat reposing in her arms. She even raised 
them slightly, and inclining her head rubbed her cheek 
against the fur of the animal, which received this caress 
with the complete detachment so characteristic of its 
kind. Then looking at Miss Haldin she excused herself 

once more for not taking her upstairs to Madame S . 

The interview could not be interrupted. Presently the 
journalist would be seen coming down the stairs. The 
best thing was to remain in the hall ; and besides, all 
these rooms (she glanced all round at the many doors), 
all these rooms on the ground floor were unfurnished. 

" Positively there is no chair down here to offer you," 
she continued. " But if you prefer your own thoughts to 
my chatter, I will sit down on the bottom step here and 
keep silent." 

Miss Haldin hastened to assure her that, on the 
contrary, she was very much interested in the story of 
the journeyman lithographer. He was a revolutionist, of 

" A martyr, a simple man," said the dame de com- 
pagnie, with a faint sigh, and gazing through the open 
front door dreamily. She turned her misty brown eyes 
on Miss Haldin. 

" I lived with him for four months. It was like a 


As Miss Haldin looked at her inquisitively she began 
to describe the emaciated face of the man, his fleshless 
limbs, his destitution. The room into which the apple- 
woman had led her was a tiny garret, a miserable den 
under the roof of a sordid house. The plaster fallen off 
the walls covered the floor, and when the door was 
opened a horrible tapestry of black cobwebs waved in 
the draught. He had been liberated a few days before 
— flung out of prison into the streets. And Miss Haldin 
seemed to see for the first time, a name and a face upon 
the body of that suffering people whose hard fate had 
been the subject of so many conversations, between her 
and her brother, in the garden of their country house. 

He had been arrested with scores and scores of other 
people in that affair of the lithographed temperance 
tracts. Unluckily, having got hold of a great many 
suspected persons, the police thought they could extract 
from some of them other information relating to the 
revolutionist propaganda. 

" They beat him so cruelly in the course of investiga- 
tion," went on the dame de compagnie, "that they injured 
him internally. When they had done with him he was 
doomed. He could do nothing for himself. I beheld 
him lying on a wooden bedstead without any bedding, 
with his head on a bundle of dirty rags, lent to him out 
of charity by an old rag-picker, who happened to live in 
the basement of the house. There he was, uncovered, 
burning with fever, and there was not even a jug in the 
room for the water to quench his thirst with. There 
was nothing whatever — ^just that bedstead and the bare 

" Was there no one in all that great town amongst 
the liberals and revolutionaries, to extend a helping 
hand to a brother?" asked Miss Haldin indignantly. 

" Yes. But you do not know the most terrible part 


of that man's misery. Listen. It seems that they 
ill-used him so atrociously that, at last, his firmness gave 
way, and he did let rut some information. Poor soul, 
the flesh is weak, you know. What it was he did not 
tell me. There was a crushed spirit in that mangled 
body. Nothing I found to say could make him whole. 
When they let him out, he crept into that hole, and 
bore his remorse stoically. He would not go near any- 
one he knew. I would have sought assistance for him, 
but, indeed, where could I have gone looking for it ? 
Where was I to look for anyone who had anything to 
spare or any power to help? The people living round 
us were all starving and drunken. They were the 
victims of the Ministry of Finances. Don't ask me 
how we lived. I couldn't tell you. It was like a miracle 
of wretchedness. I had nothing to sell, and I assure 
you my clothes were in such a state that it was im- 
possible for me to go out in the daytime. I was indecent. 
I had to wait till it was dark before I ventured into the 
streets to beg for a crust of bread, or whatever I could 
get, to keep him and me alive. Often I got nothing, 
and then I would crawl back and lie on the floor by the 
side of his couch. Oh yes, I can sleep quite soundly on 
bare boards. That is nothing, and I am only mentioning 
it to you so that you should not think I am a sybarite. 
It was infinitely less killing than the task of sitting for 
hours at a table in a cold study to take the books of 
Peter Ivanovitch from dictation. But you shall see 
yourself what that is like, so I needn't say any more 
about it." 

" It is by no means certain that I will ever take 
Peter Ivanovitch from dictation," said Miss Haldin. 

" No ! " cried the other incredulously. " Not certain ? 
You mean to say that you have not made up your 
mind ? " 


When Miss Haldin assured her that there never had 
been any question of that between her and Peter 
Ivanovitch, the woman with the cat compressed her lips 
tightly for a moment. 

" Oh, you will find yourself settled at the table 
before you know that you have made up your mind. 
Don't make a mistake, it is disenchanting to hear Peter 
Ivanovitch dictate, but at the same time there is a 
fascination about it. He is a man of genius. Your face 
is certain not to irritate him ; you may perhaps even 
help his inspiration, make it easier for him to deliver his 
message. As I look at you, I feel certain that you are 
the kind of woman who is not likely to check the flow 
of his inspiration." 

Miss Haldin thought it useless to protest against all 
these assumptions. 

" But this man — this workman — did he die under 
your care ? " she said, after a short silence. 

The dame de coinpagnie, listening up the stairs where 
now two voices were alternating with some animation, 
made no answer for a time. When the loud sounds of 
the discussion had sunk into an almost inaudible murmur, 
she turned to Miss Haldin. 

"Yes, he died, but not, literally speaking, in my 
arms, as you might suppose. As a matter of fact, 
1 was asleep when he breathed his last. So even now 
1 cannot say I have seen anybody die. A few days 
before the end, some young men found us out in our 
extremity. They were revolutionists, as you might 
guess. He ought to have trusted in his political friends 
when he came out of prison. He had been liked and 
respected before, and nobody would have dreamed of 
reproaching him with his indiscretion before the police. 
Everybody knows how they go to work, and the strongest 
man has his moments of weakness before pain. Why, 


even hunger alone is enough to give one queer ideas as 
to what may be done. A doctor came, our lot was 
alleviated as far as physical comforts go, but otherwise 
he could not be consoled — poor man. I assure you, 
Miss Haldin, that he was very lovable, but I had not 
the strength to weep. I was nearly dead myself. But 
there were kind hearts to take care of me. A dress 
was found to clothe my nakedness. I tell you, I was 
not decent — and after a time the revolutionists placed 
me with a Jewish family going abroad, as governess. 
Of course I could teach the children, I finished the sixth 
class of the Lyceum ; but the real object was, that I 
should carry some important papers across the frontier. 
I was entrusted with a packet which I carried next my 
heart. The gendarmes at the station did not suspect 
the governess of a Jewish family, busy looking after 
three children. I don't suppose those Hebrews knew 
what I had on me, for I had been introduced to them in 
a very roundabout way by persons who did not belong 
to the revolutionary movement, and naturally I had been 
instructed to accept a very small salary. When we 
reached Germany I left that family and delivered my 
papers to a revolutionist in Stuttgart ; after this I was 
employed in various ways. But you do not want to 
hear all that. I have never felt that I was very useful, 
but I live in hopes of seeing all the Ministries destroyed, 
finances and all. The greatest joy of my life has been 
to hear what your brother has done," 

She directed her round eyes again to the sunshine 
outside, while the cat reposed within her folded arms 
in lordly beatitude and sphinx-like meditation. 

" Yes ! I rejoiced," she began again. " For me 
there is a heroic ring about the very name of Haldin. 
They must have been trembling with fear in their 
Ministries — all those men with fiendish hearts. Here I 


stand talking to you, and when I think of all the cruelties, 
oppressions, and injustices that are going on at this 
very moment, my head begins to swim. I have looked 
closely at what would seem inconceivable if one's own 
eyes had not to be trusted. I have looked at things 
that made me hate myself for my helplessness. I hated 
my hands that had no power, my voice that could not 
be heard, my very mind that would not become unhinged. 
Ah ! I have seen things. And you ? " 

Miss Haldin was moved. She shook her head 

" No, I have seen nothing for myself as yet," she 
murmured. " We have always lived in the country. 
It was my brother's wish." 

" It is a curious meeting — this — between you and 
me," continued the other. " Do you believe in chance, 
Miss Haldin ? How could I have expected to see you, 
his sister, with my own eyes ? Do you know that when 
the news came the revolutionaries here were as much 
surprised as pleased, every bit ? No one seemed to 
know anything about your brother. Peter Ivanovitch 
himself had not foreseen that such a blow was going to 
be struck. I suppose your brother was simply inspired. 
1 myself think that such deeds should be done by in- 
spiration. It is a great privilege to have the inspiration 
and the opportunity. Did he resemble you at all ? 
Don't you rejoice, Miss Haldin ? " 

" You must not expect too much from me," said Miss 
Haldin, repressing an inclination to cry which came over 
her suddenly. She succeeded, then added calmly, " 1 
am not a heroic person ! " 

" You think you couldn't have done such a thing 
yourself, perhaps ? " 

" I don't know. I must not even ask myself till I 
have lived a little longer, seen more . . ." 


The other moved her head appreciatively. The 
purring of the cat had a loud complacency in the empty 
hall. No sound of voices came from upstairs. Miss 
Haldin broke the silence. 

" What is it precisely that you heard people say about 
my brother ? You said that they were surprised. Yes, 
I supposed they were. Did it not seem strange to them 
that my brother should have failed to save himself after 
the most difficult part — that is, getting away from the 
spot — was over ? Conspirators should understand these 
things well. There are reasons why I am very anxious 
to know how it is he failed to escape." 

The dame de compagnie had advanced to the open 
hall-door. She glanced rapidly over her shoulder at 
Miss Haldin, who remained within the hall. 

" Failed to escape," she repeated absently. " Didn't 
he make the sacrifice of his life ? Wasn't he just simply 
inspired ? Wasn't it an act of abnegation ? Aren't you 
certain ? " 

" What I am certain of," said Miss Haldin, " is that 
it was not an act of despair. Have you not heard some 
opinion expressed here upon his miserable capture?" 

The dame de compagnie mused for a while in the 

"Did I hear? Of course, everything is discussed 
here. Has not all the world been speaking about your 
brother ? For my part, the mere mention of his achieve- 
ment plunges me into an envious ecstasy. Why should 
a man certain of immortality think of his life at all ? " 

She kept her back turned to Miss Haldin. Upstairs 
from behind a great dingy white and gold door, visible 
behind the balustrade of the first floor landing, a deep 
voice began to drone formally, as if reading over notes 
or something of the sort. It paused frequently, and then 
ceased altogether. 


" I don't think I can stay any longer now," said 
Miss Haldin, " I may return another day." 

She waited for the dame de conipagnie to make room 
for her exit ; but the woman appeared lost in the con- 
templation of sunshine and shadows, sharing between 
themselves the stillness of the deserted grounds. She 
concealed the view of the drive from Miss Haldin. 
Suddenly she said — 

" It will not be necessary ; here is Peter Ivanovitch 
himself coming up. But he is not alone. He is seldom 
alone now." 

Hearing that Peter Ivanovitch was approaching, Miss 
Haldin was not so pleased as she might have been ex- 
pected to be. Somehow she had lost the desire to see 

either the heroic captive or Madame de S , and the 

reason of that shrinking which came upon her at the 
very last minute is accounted for by the feeling that 
those two people had not been treating the woman with 
the cat kindly. 

" Would you please let me pass ? " said Miss Haldin 
at last, touching lightly the shoulder of the dame de com- 

But the other, pressing the cat to her breast, did not 

" I know who is with him," she said, without even 
looking back. 

More unaccountably than ever Miss Haldin felt a 
strong impulse to leave the house. 

" Madame de S may be engaged for some time 

yet, and what I have got to say to Peter Ivanovitch is just 
a simple question which I might put to him when I meet 
him in the grounds on my way down. I really think I 
must go. I have been some time here, and I am anxious to 
get back to my mother. Will you let me pass, please ? " 

The dame de compagnie turned her head at last. 


" I never supposed that you really wanted to see 

Madame de S ," she said, with unexpected insight. 

" Not for a moment." There was something confidential 
and mysterious in her tone. She passed through the 
door, with Miss Haldin following her, on to the terrace, 
and they descended side by side the moss-grown stone 
steps. There was no one to be seen on the part of the 
drive visible from the front of the house. 

" They are hidden by the trees over there,'' explained 
Miss Haldin's new acquaintance, " but you shall see them 
directly. I don't know who that young man is to whom 
Peter Ivanovitch has taken such a fancy. He must be 
one of us, or he would not be admitted here when the 
others come. You know what I mean by the others. 
But I must say that he is not at all mystically inclined. 
I don't know that I have made him out yet. Naturally 
I am never for very long in the drawing-room. There is 
always something to do for me, though the establishment 
here is not so extensive as the villa on the Riviera. But 
still there are plenty of opportunities for me to make 
myself useful." 

To the left, passing by the ivy-grown end of the 
stables, appeared Peter Ivanovitch and his companion. 
They walked very slowly, conversing with some anima- 
tion. They stopped for a moment, and Peter Ivanovitch 
was seen to gesticulate, while the young man listened 
motionless, with his arms hanging down and his head 
bowed a little. He was dressed in a dark brown suit 
and a black hat. The round eyes of the dame de 
compagnie remained fixed on the two figures, which had 
resumed their leisurely approach. 

" An extremely polite young man," she said. " You 
shall see what a bow he will make ; and it won't al- 
together be so exceptional either. He bows in the same 
way when he meets me alone in the hall." 


She moved on a few steps, with Miss Haldin by her 
side, and things happened just as she had foretold. The 
young man took off his hat, bowed and fell back, while 
Peter Ivanovitch advanced quicker,his black, thick arms ex- 
tended heartily,and seized hold of both Miss Haldin's hands, 
shook them, and peered at her through his dark glasses. 

" That's right, that's right ! " he exclaimed twice, 
approvingly. " And so you have been looked after 
by . . ." He frowned slightly at the dame de conipagnie, 
who was still nursing the cat. " I conclude Eleanor — 

Madame de S is engaged. I know she expected 

somebody to-day. So the newspaper man did turn up, 
eh ? She is engaged ? " 

For all answer the dame de compagnie turned away 
her head. 

" It is very unfortunate — very unfortunate indeed. 
I very much regret that you should have been . . ." 
He lowered suddenly his voice. " But what is it — surely 
you are not departing, Natalia Victorovna? You got 
bored waiting, didn't you ? " 

" Not in the least," Miss Haldin protested. " Only 
I have been here some time, and I am anxious to get 
back to my mother." 

" The time seemed long, eh ? I am afraid our worthy 
friend here " (Peter Ivanovitch suddenly jerked his head 
sideways towards his right shoulder and jerked it up 
again), — " our worthy friend here has not the art of 
shortening the moments of waiting. No, distinctly she 
has not the art ; and in that respect good intentions 
alone count for nothing." 

The dame de compagnie dropped her arms, and the 
cat found itself suddenly on the ground. It remained 
quite still after alighting, one hind leg stretched back- 
wards. Miss Haldin was extremely indignant on behalf 
of the lady companion. 


" Believe me, Peter Ivanovitch, that the moments I 
have passed in the hall of this house have been not a 
little interesting^ and very instructive too. They are 
memorable. 1 do not regret the waiting, but I see that 
the object of my call here can be attained without taking 
up Madame de S 's time." 

At this point I interrupted Miss Haldin. The above 
relation is founded on her narrative, which I have not 
so much dramatized as might be supposed. She had 
rendered, with extraordinary feeling and animation, the 
very accent almost of the disciple of the old apple-woman, 
the irreconcilable hater of Ministries, the voluntary servant 
of the poor. Miss Haldin's true and delicate humanity 
had been extremely shocked by the uncongenial fate of her 
new acquaintance, that lady companion, secretary, what- 
ever she was. For my own part, I was pleased to 
discover in it one more obstacle to intimacy with Madame 

de S . I had a positive abhorrence for the painted, 

bedizened, dead-faced, glassy- eyed Egeria of Peter 
Ivanovitch. I do not know what was her attitude to 
the unseen, but I know that in the affairs of this world 
she was avaricious, greedy, and unscrupulous. It was 
within my knowledge that she had been worsted in a 
sordid and desperate quarrel about money matters with 
the family of her late husband, the diplomatist. Some 
very august personages indeed (whom in her fury she 
had insisted upon scandalously involving in her affairs) 
had incurred her animosity. I find it perfectly easy to 
believe that she had come to within an ace of being 
spirited away, for reasons of state, into some discreet 
viaison de sante — a madhouse of sorts, to be plain. It 
appears, however, that certain high-placed personages 
opposed it for reasons which . . . 

But it's no use to go into details. 

Wonder may be expressed at a man in the position 


of a teacher of languages knowing all this with such 
definiteness. A novelist says this and that of his person- 
ages, and if only he knows how to say it earnestly enough 
he may not be questioned upon the inventions of his 
brain in which his own belief is made sufficiently manifest 
by a telling phrase, a poetic image, the accent of emotion. 
Art is great ! But I have no art, and not having invented 

Madame de S , I feel bound to explain how I came 

to know so much about her. 

My informant was the Russian wife of a friend of 
mine already mentioned, the professor of Lausanne 
University. It was from her that I learned the last fact 

of Madame de S 's history, with which I intend to 

trouble my readers. She told me, speaking positively, as 
a person who trusts her sources, of the cause of Madame 

de S 's flight from Russia, some years before. It was 

neither more nor less than this : that she became suspect 
to the police in connexion with the assassination of the 
Emperor Alexander. The ground of this suspicion was 
either some unguarded expressions that escaped her in 
public, or some talk overheard in her salon. Overheard, 
we must believe, by some guest, perhaps a friend, who 
hastened to play the informer, I suppose. At any rate, 
the overheard matter seemed to imply her foreknowledge 
of that event, and I think she was wise in not waiting 
for the investigation of such a charge. Some of my 
readers may remember a little book from her pen, pub- 
lished in Paris, a mystically bad-tempered, declamatory, 
and frightfully disconnected piece of writing, in which 
she all but admits the foreknowledge, more than hints 
at its supernatural origin, and plainly suggests in 
venomous innuendoes that the guilt of the act was not 
with the terrorists, but with a palace intrigue. When 
I observed to my friend, the professor's wife, that the life 
of Madame de S , with its unofficial diplomacy, its 


intrigues, lawsuits, favours, disgrace, expulsions, its 
atmosphere of scandal, occultism, and charlatanism, was 
more fit for the eighteenth century than for the con- 
ditions of our own time, she assented with a smile, but 
a moment after went on in a reflective tone : " Charla- 
tanism ? — yes, in a certain measure. Still, times are 
changed. There are forces now which were non-existent 
in the eighteenth century. I should not be surprised 
if she were more dangerous than an Englishman would 
be willing to believe. And what's more, she is looked 
upon as really dangerous by certain people — chez nous!' 

Chez 710US in this connexion meant Russia in general, 
and the Russian political police in particular. The object 
of my digression from the straight course of Miss 
Haldin's relation (in my own words) of her visit to the 
Chateau Borel, was to bring forward that statement of 
my friend, the professor's wife. I wanted to bring it 
forward simply to make what I have to say presently 
of Mr. Razumov's presence in Geneva, a little more 
credible — for this is a Russian story for Western ears, 
which, as I have observed already, are not attuned to 
certain tones of cynicism and cruelty, of moral negation, 
and even of moral distress already silenced at our end 
of Europe. And this I state as my excuse for having 
left Miss Haldin standing, one of the little group of two 
women and two men who had come together below the 
terrace of the Chateau Borel. 

The knowledge which I have just stated was in 
my mind when, as I have said, I interrupted Miss Haldin. 
I interrupted her with the cry of profound satisfaction — 

" So you never saw Madame de S , after all ? " 

Miss Haldin shook her head. It was very satisfactory 

to me. She had not seen Madame de S ! That was 

excellent, excellent ! I welcomed the conviction that 

she would never know Madame de S now. I could 



not explain the reason of the conviction but by the know- 
ledge that Miss Haldin was standing face to face with her 
brother's wonderful friend, I preferred him to Madame 

de S as the companion and guide of that young 

girl, abandoned to her inexperience by the miserable 
end of her brother. But, at any rate, that life now ended 
had been sincere, and perhaps its thoughts might have 
been lofty, its moral sufferings profound, its last act a 
true sacrifice. It is not for us, the staid lovers calmed 
by the possession of a conquered liberty, to condemn 
without appeal the fierceness of thwarted desire. 

I am not ashamed of the warmth of my regard for 
Miss Haldin. It was, it must be admitted, an unselfish 
sentiment, being its own reward. The late Victor Haldin 
— in the light of that sentiment — appeared to me not 
as a sinister conspirator, but as a pure enthusiast. I did 
not wish indeed to judge him, but the very fact that 
he did not escape, that fact which brought so much 
trouble to both his mother and his sister, spoke to me 
in his favour. Meantime, in my fear of seeing the girl 
surrender to the influence of the Chateau Borel revolu- 
tionary feminism, I was more than willing to put my 
trust in that friend of the late Victor Haldin. He was 
nothing but a name, you will say. Exactly ! A name ! 
And what's more, the only name ; the only name to be 
found in the correspondence between brother and sister. 
The young man had turned up ; they had come face to 
face, and, fortunately, without the direct interference of 

Madame de S . What will come of it ? what will she 

tell me presently ? I was asking myself 

It was only natural that my thought should turn to 
the young man, the bearer of the only name uttered in 
all the dream-talk of a future to be brought about by a 
revolution. And my thought took the shape of asking 
myself why this young man had not called upon these 


ladies. He had been in Geneva for some days before 
Miss Haldin heard of him first in my presence from Peter 
Ivanovitch. I regretted that last's presence at their 
meeting. I would rather have had it happen somewhere 
out of his spectacled sight. But I supposed that, having 
both these young people there, he introduced them to 
each other. 

I broke the silence by beginning a question on that 
point — 

" I suppose Peter Ivanovitch . . ." 

Miss Haldin gave vent to her indignation. Peter 
Ivanovitch directly he had got his answer from her had 
turned upon the dame de compagnie in a shameful 

" Turned upon her ? " I wondered. " What about ? 
For what reason ? " 

"It was unheard of; it was shameful," Miss Haldin 
pursued, with angry eyes. " // lui a fait une scene — like 
this, before strangers. And for what ? You would never 
guess. For some eggs. . . . Oh ! " 

I was astonished. " Eggs, did you say ? " 

" For Madame de S . That lady observes a special 

diet, or something of the sort. It seems she complained 
the day before to Peter Ivanovitch that the eggs were 
not rightly prepared. Peter Ivanovitch suddenly re- 
membered this against the poor woman, and flew out 
at her. It was most astonishing. I stood as if rooted." 

" Do you mean to say that the great feminist allowed 
himself to be abusive to a woman ? " I asked. 

" Oh, not that ! It was something you have no 
conception of. It was an odious performance. Imagine, 
he raised his hat to begin with. He made his voice 
soft and deprecatory. ' Ah ! you are not kind to us — 
you will not deign to remember . . .' This sort of 
phrases, that sort of tone. The poor creature was terribly 


upset. Her eyes ran full of tears. She did not know 
where to look. I shouldn't wonder if she would have 
preferred abuse, or even a blow." 

I did not remark that very possibly she was familiar 
with both on occasions when no one was by. Miss 
Haldin walked by my side, her head up in scornful and 
angry silence. 

" Great men have their surprising peculiarities," I 
observed inanely. " Exactly like men who are not great. 
But that sort of thing cannot be kept up for ever. How 
did the great feminist wind up this very characteristic 
episode ? " 

Miss Haldin, without turning her face my way, told 
me that the end was brought about by the appearance 
of the interviewer, who had been closeted with Madame 
de S . 

He came up rapidly, unnoticed, lifted his hat slightly, 
and paused to say in French : " The Baroness has asked 
me, in case I met a lady on my way out, to desire her 
to come in at once." 

After delivering this message, he hurried down the 
drive. The dame de compagnie flew towards the house, 
and Peter Ivanovitch followed her hastily, looking uneasy. 
In a moment Miss Haldin found herself alone with the 
young man, who undoubtedly must have been the new 
arrival from Russia. She wondered whether her 
brother's friend had not already guessed who she was. 

I am in a position to say that, as a matter of fact, 
he had guessed. It is clear to me that Peter Ivanovitch, 
for some reason or other, had refrained from alluding to 
these ladies' presence in Geneva. But Razumov had 
guessed. The trustful girl ! Every word uttered by Haldin 
lived in Razumov's memory. They were like haunting 
shapes ; they could not be exorcised. The most vivid 
amongst them was the mention of the sister. The girl 


had existed for him ever since. But he did not recognize 
her at once. Coming up with Peter Ivanovitch, he did 
observe her ; their eyes had met, even. He had 
responded, as no one could help responding, to the 
harmonious charm of her whole person, its strength, its 
grace, its tranquil frankness — and then he had turned 
his gaze away. He said to himself that all this was not 
for him ; the beauty of women and the friendship of 
men were not for him. He accepted that feeling with a 
purposeful sternness, and tried to pass on. It was only 
her outstretched hand which brought about the recogni- 
tion. It stands recorded in tlic pages of his self- 
confession, that it nearly suffocated him physically with 
an emotional reaction of hate and dismay, as though her 
appearance had been a piece of accomplished treachery. 

He faced about. The considerable elevation of the 
terrace concealed them from anyone lingering in the 
doorway of the house ; and even from the upstairs 
windows they could not have been seen. Through the 
thickets run wild, and the trees of the gently sloping 
grounds, he had cold, placid glimpses of the lake. A 
moment of perfect privacy had been vouchsafed to them 
at this juncture. I wondered to myself what use they 
had made of that fortunate circumstance. 

" Did you have time for more than a few words ? " I 

That animation with which she had related to me the 
incidents of her visit to the Chateau Borel had left her 
completely. Strolling by my side, she looked straight 
before her ; but I noticed a little colour on her cheek. 
She did not answer me. 

After some little time I observed that they could 
not have hoped to remain forgotten for very long, unless 

the other two had discovered Madame de S swooning 

with fatigue, perhaps, or in a state of morbid exaltation 


after the long interview. Either would require their 
devoted ministrations. I could depict to myself Peter 
Ivanovitch rushing busily out of the house again, bare- 
headed, perhaps, and on across the terrace with his 
swinging gait, the black skirts of the frock-coat floating 
clear of his stout light grey legs. I confess to having 
looked upon these young people as the quarry of the 
" heroic fugitive." I had the notion that they would not 
be allowed to escape capture. But of that I said 
nothing to Miss Haldin, only as she still remained 
uncommunicative, I pressed her a little. 

" Well — but you can tell me at least your im- 

She turned her head to look at me, and turned away 

" Impression ? " she repeated slowly, almost dreamily ; 
then in a quicker tone — 

" He seems to be a man who has suffered more from 
his thoughts than from evil fortune." 
" From his thoughts, you say ? " 

" And that is natural enough in a Russian," she took 
me up. " In a young Russian ; so many of them are 
unfit for action, and yet unable to rest." 

" And you think he is that sort of man ? " 
" No, I do not judge him. How could I, so suddenly ? 
You asked for my impression — I explain my impression. 
I — I — don't know the world, nor yet the people in it ; I 
have been too solitary — I am too young to trust my 
own opinions." 

" Trust your instinct," I advised her. " Most women 
trust to that, and make no worse mistakes than men. 
In this case you have your brother's letter to help 

She drew a deep breath like a light sigh. 

'' Unstained, lofty, and solitary existences," she quoted 


as if to herself. But I caught the wistful murmur 

" High praise," I whispered to her. 

" The highest possible." 

" So high that, like the award of happiness, it is more 
fit to come only at the end of a life. But still no 
common or altogether unworthy personality could have 
suggested such a confident exaggeration of praise 
and . . ." 

" Ah ! " She interrupted me ardently. " And if you 
had only known the heart from which that judgment 
has come ! " 

She ceased on that note, and for a space I reflected 
on the character of the words which I perceived very well 
must tip the scale of the girl's feelings in that young 
man's favour. They had not the sound of a casual 
utterance. Vague they were to my Western mind and 
to my Western sentiment, but I could not forget that, 
standing by Miss Haldin's side, I was like a traveller in 
a strange country. It had also become clear to me that 
Miss Haldin was unwilling to enter into the details of 
the only material part of their visit to the Chateau Borel. 
But I was not hurt. Somehow I didn't feel it to be a 
want of confidence. It was some other difficulty — a 
difficulty I could not resent. And it was without the 
slightest resentment that I said — 

" Very well. But on that high ground, which I will 
not dispute, you, like anyone else in such circumstances, 
you must have made for yourself a representation of that 
exceptional friend, a mental image of him, and — please 
tell me — you were not disappointed ? " 

" What do you mean ? His personal appearance ? " 

" I don't mean precisely his good looks, or otherwise." 

We turned at the end of the alley and made a (cw 
steps without looking at each other. 


" His appearance is not ordinary," said Miss Haldin 
at last. 

" No, I should have thought not — from the little 
you've said of your first impression. After all, one has 
to fall back on that word. Impression ! What I mean 
is that something indescribable which is likely to mark a 
' not ordinary ' person." 

I perceived that she was not listening. There was 
no mistaking her expression ; and once more I had the 
sense of being out of it — not because of my age, which 
at any rate could draw inferences — but altogether out of 
it, on another plane whence I could only watch her from 
afar. And so ceasing to speak I watched her stepping 
out by my side. 

" No," she exclaimed suddenly, " I could not have 
been disappointed with a man of such strong feeling." 

" Aha ! Strong feeling," I muttered, thinking to 
myself censoriously : like this, at once, all in a moment ! 

"What did you say?" inquired Miss Haldin 

" Oh, nothing. I beg your pardon. Strong feeling. 
I am not surprised." 

" And you don't know how abruptly I behaved to 
him ! " she cried remorsefully. 

I suppose I must have appeared surprised, for, looking 
at me with a still more heightened colour, she said she 
was ashamed to admit that she had not been sufficiently 
collected ; she had failed to control her words and actions 
as the situation demanded. She lost the fortitude 
worthy of both the men, the dead and the living ; the 
fortitude which should have been the note of the meet- 
ing of Victor Haldin's sister with Victor Haldin's only 
known friend. He was looking at her keenly, but said 
nothing, and she was — she confessed — painfully affected 
by his want of comprehension. All she could say was: 


" You are Mr. Razumov." A slight frown passed over 
his forehead. After a short, watchful pause, he made a 
little bow of assent, and waited. 

At the thought that she had before her the man so 
highly regarded by her brother, the man who had known 
his value, spoken to him, understood him, had listened to 
his confidences, perhaps had encouraged him — her lips 
trembled, her eyes ran full of tears ; she put out her 
hand, made a step towards him impulsively, saying with 
an effort to restrain her emotion," Can't you guess who I 
am ? " He did not take the proffered hand. He even 
recoiled a pace, and Miss Haldin imagined that he was 
unpleasantly affected. Miss Haldin excused him, 
directing her displeasure at herself She had behaved 
unworthily, like an emotional French girl. A manifesta- 
tion of that kind could not be welcomed by a man of 
stern, self-contained character. 

He must have been stern indeed, or perhaps very 
timid with women, not to respond in a more human way 
to the advances of a girl like Nathalie Haldin — I 
thought to myself. Those lofty and solitary existences 
(I remembered the words suddenly) make a young man 
shy and an old man savage — often. 

" Well," I encouraged Miss Haldin to proceed. 

She was still very dissatisfied with herself. 

" I went from bad to worse," she said, with an air of 
discouragement very foreign to her. " I did everything 
foolish except actually bursting into tears. I am 
thankful to say I did not do that. But I was unable to 
speak for quite a long time." 

She had stood before him, speechless, swallowing her 
sobs, and when she managed at last to utter something, 
it was only her brother's name — " Victor — Victor 
Haldin ! " she gasped out, and again her voice failed her. 

" Of course," she commented to me, " this distressed 


him. He was quite overcome. I have told you my 
opinion that he is a man of deep feeling — it is impossible 
to doubt it. You should have seen his face. He 
positively reeled. He leaned against the wall of the 
terrace. Their friendship must have been the very 
brotherhood of souls ! I was grateful to him for that 
emotion, which made me feel less ashamed of my own 
lack of self-control. Of course I had regained the 
power of speech at once, almost. All this lasted not 
more than a few seconds. ' I am his sister,' I said. 
' Maybe you have heard of me.' " 

" And had he ? " I interrupted. 

" I don't know. How could it have been otherwise ? 
And yet . . , But what does that matter ? I stood 
there before him, near enough to be touched and surely 
not looking like an impostor. All I know is, that he 
put out both his hands then to me, I may say flung 
them out at me, with the greatest readiness and warmth, 
and that I seized and pressed them, feeling that I was 
finding again a little of what I thought was lost to me 
for ever, with the loss of my brother — some of that hope, 
inspiration, and support which I used to get from my 
dear dead ..." 

I understood quite well what she meant. We 
strolled on slowly. I refrained from looking at her. 
And it was as if answering my own thoughts that I 
murmured — 

" No doubt it was a great friendship — as you say. 
And that young man ended by welcoming your name, 
so to speak, with both hands. After that, of course, 
you would understand each other. Yes, you would 
understand each other quickly." 

It was a moment before I heard her voice. 

" Mr. Razumov seems to be a man of few words. 
A reserved man — even when he is strongly moved." 


Unable to forget — or even to forgive — the bass- 
toned expansiveness of Peter Ivanovitch, the Arch- 
Patron of revolutionary parties, I said that I took this 
for a favourable trait of character. It was associated 
with sincerity — in my mind. 

" And, besides, we had not much time," she added. 

" No, you would not have, of course." My 
suspicion and even dread of the feminist and his Egeria 
was so ineradicable that I could not help asking with 
real anxiety, which I made smiling — 

" But you escaped all right ? " 

She understood me, and smiled too, at my un- 

" Oh yes ! I escaped, if you like to call it that. I 
walked away quickly. There was no need to run. I 
am neither frightened nor yet fascinated, like that poor 
woman who received me so strangely." 

" And Mr. — Mr. Razumov . . . ? " 

" He remained there, of course. I suppose he went 
into the house after I left him. You remember that he 
came here strongly recommended to Peter Ivanovitch — 
possibly entrusted with important messages for him." 

" Ah yes ! From that priest who . . ." 

" Father Zosim — yes. Or from others, perhaps." 

" You left him, then. But have you seen him since, 
may I ask ? " 

For some time Miss Haldin made no answer to this 
very direct question, then — 

" I have been expecting to see him here to-day," she 
said quietly. 

" You have ! Do you meet, then, in this garden ? 
In that case I had better leave you at once." 

" No, why leave me ? And we don't meet in this 
garden. I have not seen Mr. Razumov since that first 
time. Not once. But I have been expecting him . . ." 


She paused. I wondered to myself why that young 
revolutionist should show so little alacrity. 

" Before we parted I told Mr. Razumov that I 
walked here for an hour every day at this time. I could 
not explain to him then why I did not ask him to come 
and see us at once. Mother must be prepared for such 
a visit. And then, you see, I do not know myself what 
Mr. Razumov has to tell us. He, too, must be told 
first how it is with poor mother. All these thoughts 
flashed through my mind at once. So I told him 
hurriedly that there was a reason why I could not ask 
him to see us at home, but that I was in the habit of 
walking here. . . . This is a public place, but there 
are never many people about at this hour. I thought 
it would do very well. And it is so near our apart- 
ments. I don't like to be very far away from mother. 
Our servant knows where I am in case I should be 
wanted suddenly." 

" Yes. It is very convenient from that point of 
view," I agreed. 

In fact, I thought the Bastions a very convenient 
place, since the girl did not think it prudent as yet to 
introduce that young man to her mother. It was here, 
then, I thought, looking round at that plot of ground 
of deplorable banality, that their acquaintance will 
begin and go on in the exchange of generous indigna- 
tions and of extreme sentiments, too poignant, perhaps, 
for a non-Russian mind to conceive. I saw these two, 
escaped out of four score of millions of human beings 
ground between the upper and nether millstone, walking 
under these trees, their young heads close together. 
Yes, an excellent place to stroll and talk in. It even 
occurred to me, while we turned once more away from 
the wide iron gates, that when tired they would have 
plenty of accommodation to rest themselves. There 



was a quantity of tables and chairs displayed between 
the restaurant chalet and the bandstand, a whole raft of 
painted deals spread out under the trees. In the very 
middle of it I observed a solitary Swiss couple, whose 
fate was made secure from the cradle to the grave by 
the perfected mechanism of democratic institutions in a 
republic that could almost be held in the palm of one's 
hand. The man, colourlessly uncouth, was drinking 
beer out of a glittering glass ; the woman, rustic and 
placid, leaning back in the rough chair, gazed idly 

There is little logic to be expected on this earth, 
not only in the matter of thought, but also of sentiment. 
I was surprised to discover myself displeased with that 
unknown young man. A week had gone by since they 
met. Was he callous, or shy, or very stupid ? I could 
not make it out. 

" Do you think," I asked Miss Haldin, after we had 
gone some distance up the great alley, " that Mr. 
Razumov understood your intention ? " 

" Understood what I meant?" she wondered. "He 
was greatly moved. That I know ! In my own agita- 
tion I could see it. But I spoke distinctly. He heard 
me ; he seemed, indeed, to hang on my words . . ." 

Unconsciously she had hastened her pace. Her 
utterance, too, became quicker. 

I waited a little before I observed thoughtfully — 

" And yet he allowed all these days to pass." 

" How can we tell what work he may have to do 
here? He is not an idler travelling for his pleasure. 
His time may not be his own — nor yet his thoughts, 

She slowed her pace suddenly, and in a lowered 
voice added — 

"Or his very life" — then paused and stood still 


" For all I know, he may have had to leave Geneva the 
very day he saw me." 

" Without telling you ! " I exclaimed incredulously. 

" I did not give him time. I left him quite abruptly. 
I behaved emotionally to the end. I am sorry for it. 
Even if I had given him the opportunity he would have 
been justified in taking me for a person not to be 
trusted. An emotional, tearful girl is not a person to 
confide in. But even if he has left Geneva for a time, 
I am confident that we shall meet again." 

" Ah ! you are confident. ... I dare say. But on 
what ground ? " 

" Because I've told him that I was in great need 
of some one, a fellow-countryman, a fellow-believer, 
to whom I could give my confidence in a certain 

" I see. I don't ask you what answer he made. I 
confess that this is good ground for your belief in 
Mr. Razumov's appearance before long. But he has not 
turned up to-day ? " 

" No," she said quietly, " not to-day ; " and we stood 
for a time in silence, like people that have nothing more 
to say to each other and let their thoughts run widely 
asunder before their bodies go off their different ways. 
Miss Haldin glanced at the watch on her wrist and 
made a brusque movement. She had already overstayed 
her time, it seemed. 

" I don't like to be away from mother," she 
murmured, shaking her head. " It is not that she is 
very ill now. But somehow when I am not with her I 
am more uneasy than ever." 

Mrs. Haldin had not made the slightest allusion to 
her son for the last week or more. She sat, as usual, 
in the arm-chair by the window, looking out silently on 
that hopeless stretch of the Boulevard des Philosophes. 


When she spoke, a kw lifeless words, it was of in- 
different, trivial things. 

" For anyone who knows what the poor soul is 
thinking of, that sort of talk is more painful than her 
silence. But that is bad too ; 1 can hardly endure it, 
and I dare not break it." 

Miss Haldin sighed, refastening a button of her glove 
which had come undone. I knew well enough what a 
hard time of it she must be having. The stress, its 
causes, its nature, would have undermined the health of 
an Occidental girl ; but Russian natures have a singular 
power of resistance against the unfair strains of life. 
Straight and supple, with a short jacket open on her 
black dress, which made her figure appear more slender 
and her fresh but colourless face more pale, she com- 
pelled my wonder and admiration. 

" I can't stay a moment longer. You ought to 
come soon to see mother. You know she calls you 
* L'ami! It is an excellent name, and she really means 
it. And now au revoir, I must run." 

She glanced vaguely down the broad walk — the 
hand she put out to me eluded my grasp by an unex- 
pected upward movement, and rested upon my shoulder. 
Her red lips were slightly parted, not in a smile, 
however, but expressing a sort of startled pleasure. 
She gazed towards the gates and said quickly, with a 
gasp — 

, " There ! I knew it. Here he comes ! " 

I understood that she must mean Mr. Razumov. 
A young man was walking up the alley, without haste. 
His clothes were some dull shade of brown, and he 
carried a stick. When my eyes first fell on him, his 
head was hanging on his breast as if in deep thought. 
While I was looking at him he raised it sharply, and 
at once stopped. I am certain he did, but that pause 


was nothing more perceptible than a faltering check 
in his gait, instantaneously overcome. Then he con- 
tinued his approach, looking at us steadily. Miss 
Haldin signed to me to remain, and advanced a step or 
two to meet him. 

I turned my head away from that meeting, and did 
not look at them again till I heard Miss Haldin's voice 
uttering his name in the way of introduction. Mr. 
Razumov was informed, in a warm, low tone, that, besides 
being a wonderful teacher, I was a great support " in 
our sorrow and distress." 

Of course I was described also as an Englishman. 
Miss Haldin spoke rapidly, faster than I have ever heard 
her speak, and that by contrast made the quietness of 
her eyes more expressive. 

" I have given him my confidence," she added, look- 
ing all the time at Mr. Razumov. That young man 
did, indeed, rest his gaze on Miss Haldin, but certainly 
did not look into her eyes which were so ready for him. 
Afterwards he glanced backwards and forwards at us 
both, while the faint commencement of a forced smile, 
followed by the suspicion of a frown, vanished one after 
another ; I detected them, though neither could have 
been noticed by a person less intensely bent upon divin- 
ing him than myself I don't know what Nathalie Haldin 
had observed, but my attention seized the very shades 
of these movements. The attempted smile was given 
up, the incipient frown was checked, and smoothed 
so that there should be no sign ; but I imagined him 
exclaiming inwardly — 

" Her confidence ! To this elderly person — this 
foreigner ! " 

I imagined this because he looked foreign enough to 
me. I was upon the whole favourably impressed. He 
had an air of intelligence and even some distinction 


quite above the average of the students and other in- 
habitants of the Petite Russie. His features were more 
decided than in the generality of Russian faces ; he had 
a line of the jaw, a clean-shaven, sallow cheek ; his nose 
was a ridge, and not a mere protuberance. He wore 
the hat well down over his eyes, his dark hair curled 
low on the nape of his neck ; in the ill-fitting brown 
clothes there were sturdy limbs ; a slight stoop brought 
out a satisfactory breadth of shoulders. Upon the whole 
I was not disappointed. Studious — robust — shy. . . . 

Before Miss Haldin had ceased speaking I felt the 
grip of his hand on mine, a muscular, firm grip, but 
unexpectedly hot and dry. Not a word or even a 
mutter assisted this short and arid handshake. 

I intended to leave them to themselves, but Miss 
Haldin touched me lightly on the forearm with a signifi- 
cant contact, conveying a distinct wish. Let him smile 
who likes, but I was only too ready to stay near Nathalie 
Haldin, and I am not ashamed to say that it was no 
smiling matter to me. 1 stayed, not as a youth would 
have stayed, uplifted, as it were poised in the air, but 
soberly, with my feet on the ground and my mind 
trying to penetrate her intention. She had turned to 

" Well. This is the place. Yes, it is here that I 
meant you to come. 1 have been walking every day. 
. . . Don't excuse yourself — I understand. I am grate- 
ful to you for coming to-day, but all the same I cannot 
stay now. It is impossible. I must hurry off home. 
Yes, even with you standing before me, I must run off. 
I have been too long away. . . . You know how it is ? " 

These last words were addressed to me. I noticed 

that Mr. Razumov passed the tip of his tongue over his 

lips just as a parched, feverish man might do. He took 

her hand in its black glove, which closed on his, and 



held it — detained it quite visibly to me against a draw- 
ing-back movement. 

" Thank you once more for — for understanding me," 
she went on warmly. He interrupted her with a certain 
effect of roughness. I didn't like him speaking to this 
frank creature so much from under the brim of his hat, 
as it were. And he produced a faint, rasping voice 
quite like a man with a parched throat. 

" What is there to thank me for ? Understand you ? 
. . . How did I understand you ? . . . You had 
better know that I understand nothing. I was aware 
that you wanted to see me in this garden. I could not 
come before. I was hindered. And even to-day, you 
see . . . late." 

She still held his hand. 

" I can, at any rate, thank you for not dismissing 
me from your mind as a weak, emotional girl. No 
doubt I want sustaining. I am very ignorant. But I 
can be trusted. Indeed I can ! " 

" You are ignorant," he repeated thoughtfully. He 
had raised his head, and was looking straight into her 
face now, while she held his hand. They stood like 
this for a long moment. She released his hand. 

" Yes. You did come late. It was good of you to 
come on the chance of me having loitered beyond my 
time. I was talking with this good friend here. I was 
talking of you. Yes, Kirylo Sidorovitch, of you. He 
was with me when I first heard of your being here in 
Geneva. He can tell you what comfort it was to my 
bewildered spirit to hear that news. He knew I meant 
to seek you out. It was the only object of my accept- 
ing the invitation of Peter Ivanovitch, . . ." 

" Peter Ivanovitch talked to you of me," he in- 
terrupted, in that wavering, hoarse voice which suggested 
a horribly dry throat. 


" Very little. Just told me your name, and that you 
had arrived here. Why should I have asked for more ? 
What could he have told me that I did not know already 
from my brother's letter ? Three lines ! And how 
much they meant to me ! I will show them to you one 
day, Kirylo Sidorovitch. But now I must go. The first 
talk between us cannot be a matter of five minutes, so 
we had better not begin. . . ." 

I had been standing a little aside, seeing them both 
in profile. At that moment it occurred to me that Mr. 
Razumov's face was older than his age, 

"If mother" — the girl had turned suddenly to me — 
" were to wake up in my absence (so much longer than 
usual) she would perhaps question me. She seems to 
miss me more, you know, of late. She would want to 
know what delayed me — and, you see, it would be painful 
for me to dissemble before her." 

I understood the point very well. For the same 
reason she checked what seemed to be on Mr. Razumov's 
part a movement to accompany her. 

" No ! No ! I go alone, but meet me here as soon as 
possible." Then to me in a lower, significant tone — 

" Mother may be sitting at the window at this 
moment, looking down the street. She must not know 
anything of Mr. Razumov's presence here till — till 
something is arranged." She paused before she added 
a little louder, but still speaking to me, " Mr. Razumov 
does not quite understand my difficulty, but you know 
what it is." 


With a quick inclination of the head for us both, and 
an earnest, friendly glance at the young man, Miss 
Haldin left us covering our heads and looking after her 


straight, supple figure receding rapidly. Her walk was 
not that hybrid and uncertain gliding affected by some 
women, but a frank, strong, healthy movement forward. 
Rapidly she increased the distance — disappeared with 
suddenness at last. I discovered only then that Mr. 
Razumov, after ramming his hat well over his brow, was 
looking me over from head to foot. I dare say I was a 
very unexpected fact for that young Russian to stumble 
upon. I caught in his physiognomy, in his whole 
bearing, an expression compounded of curiosity and 
scorn, tempered by alarm — as though he had been 
holding his breath while I was not looking. But his 
eyes met mine with a gaze direct enough. I saw then 
for the first time that they were of a clear brown colour 
and fringed with thick black eyelashes. They were the 
youngest feature of his face. Not at all unpleasant eyes. 
He swayed slightly, leaning on his stick and generally 
hung in the wind. It flashed upon me that in leaving 
us together Miss Haldin had an intention — that some- 
thing was entrusted to me, since, by a mere accident I 
had been found at hand. On this assumed ground I put 
all possible friendliness into my manner. I cast about 
for some right thing to say, and suddenly in Miss 
Haldin's last words I perceived the clue to the nature of 
my mission. 

" No," I said gravely, if with a smile, " you cannot 
be expected to understand." 

His clean-shaven lip quivered ever so little before he 
said, as if wickedly amused — 

"But haven't you heard just now? I was thanked 
by that young lady for understanding so well." 

I looked at him rather hard. Was there a hidden 
and inexplicable sneer in this retort? No. It was not 
that. It might have been resentment. Yes. But what 
had he to resent ? He looked as though he had not 



slept very well of late. I could almost feel on me the 
weight of his unrefreshed, motionless stare, the stare of a 
man who lies unwinking in the dark, angrily passive in 
the toils of disastrous thoughts. Now, when I know 
how true it was, I can honestly affirm that this was the 
effect he produced on me. It was painful in a curiously 
indefinite way — for, of course, the definition comes to 
me now while I sit writing in the fullness of my 
knowledge. But this is what the effect was at that time 
of absolute ignorance. This new sort of uneasiness 
which he seemed to be forcing upon me I attempted to 
put down by assuming a conversational, easy familiarity. 

" That extremely charming and essentially admirable 
young girl (I am — as you see — old enough to be frank 
in my expressions) was referring to her own feelings. 
Surely you must have understood that much ? " 

He made such a brusque movement that he even 
tottered a little. 

" Must understand this ! Not expected to under- 
stand that ! I may have other things to do. And the 
girl is charming and admirable. Well — and if she is ! 
I suppose I can see that for myself" 

This sally would have been insulting if his voice had 
not been practically extinct, dried up in his throat ; and 
the rustling effort of his speech too painful to give real 

I remained silent, checked between the obvious fact 
and the subtle impression. Jt was open to me to leave 
him there and then ; but the sense of having been 
entrusted with a mission, the suggestion of Miss Haldin's 
last glance, was strong upon me. After a moment of 
reflection I said — 

" Shall we walk together a little ? " 

He shrugged his shoulders so violently that he 
tottered again. I saw it out of the corner of my eye as 


I moved on, with him at my elbow. He had fallen back 
a little and was practically out of my sight, unless I 
turned my head to look at him. I did not wish to 
indispose him still further by an appearance of marked 
curiosity. It might have been distasteful to such a 
young and secret refugee from under the pestilential 
shadow hiding the true, kindly face of his land. And 
the shadow, the attendant of his countrymen, stretching 
across the middle of Europe, was lying on him too, 
darkening his figure to my mental vision. " Without 
doubt," I said to myself, " he seems a sombre, even a 
desperate revolutionist ; but he is young, he may be 
un.selfish and humane, capable of compassion, of . . ." 

I heard him clear gratingly his parched throat, and 
became all attention. 

" This is beyond everything," were his first words. 
"It is beyond everything ! I find you here, for no reason 
that I can understand, in possession of something I cannot 
be expected to understand ! A confidant ! A foreigner ! 
Talking about an admirable Russian girl. Is the 
admirable girl a fool, I begin to wonder ? What are you 
at ? What is your object ? " 

He was barely audible, as if his throat had no more 
resonance than a dry rag, a piece of tinder. It was 
so pitiful that I found it extremely easy to control my 

" When you have lived a little longer, Mr. Razumov, 
you will discover that no woman is an absolute fool. I 
am not a feminist, like that illustrious author, Peter 
Ivanovitch, who, to say the truth, is not a little suspect to 
me. . . . 

He interrupted me, in a surprising note of whispering 

" Suspect to you ! Peter Ivanovitch suspect to you ! 
To you ! . . ." 


" Yes, in a certain aspect he is," I said, dismissing 
my remark lightly. " As I was saying, Mr. Razumov, 
when you have lived long enough, you will learn to 
discriminate between the noble trustfulness of a nature 
foreign to every meanness and the flattered credulity of 
some women ; though even the credulous, silly as they may 
be, unhappy as they are sure to be, are never absolute 
fools. It is my belief that no woman is ever completely 
deceived. Those that are lost leap into the abyss with 
their eyes open, if all the truth were known." 

" Upon my word," he cried at my elbow, " what is it 
to me whether women are fools or lunatics? I really 
don't care what you think of them. I — I am not 
interested in them. I let them be. I am not a young 
man in a novel. How do you know that I want to learn 
anything about women ? . . . What is the meaning of 
all this?" 

" The object, you mean, of this conversation, which I 
admit I have forced upon you in a measure." 

"Forced! Object!" he repeated, still keeping half 
a pace or so behind me. " You wanted to talk about 
women, apparently. That's a subject. But I don't care 
for it. I have never ... In fact, I have had other 
subjects to think about." 

" I am concerned here with one woman only — a 
young girl — the sister of your dead friend — Miss Haldin. 
Surely you can think a little of her. What I meant 
from the first was that there is a situation which you 
cannot be expected to understand." 

I listened to his unsteady footfalls by my side for 
the space of several strides. 

" I think that it may prepare the ground for your 
next interview with Miss Haldin if I tell you of it. I 
imagine that she might have had something of the kind 
in her mind when she left us together. I believe myself 


authorized to speak. The peculiar situation I have 
alluded to has arisen in the first grief and distress of 
Victor Haldin's execution. There was something peculiar 
in the circumstances of his arrest. You no doubt know 
the whole truth. . . ." 

I felt my arm seized above the elbow, and next 
instant found myself swung so as to face Mr. Razumov. 

" You spring up from the ground before me with this 
talk. Who the devil are you ? This is not to be borne ! 
Why ! What for ? What do you know what is or is 
not peculiar? What have you to do with any con- 
founded circumstances, or with anything that happens in 
Russia, anyway ? " 

He leaned on his stick with his other hand, heavily ; 
and when he let go my arm, I was certain in my mind 
that he was hardly able to keep on his feet. 

" Let us sit down at one of these vacant tables," 
I proposed, disregarding this display of unexpectedly 
profound emotion. It was not without its effect on 
me, I confess. I was sorry for him. 

" What tables ? What are you talking about ? Oh 
— the empty tables? The tables there. Certainly. 
T will sit at one of the empty tables." 

I led him away from the path to the very centre of 
the raft of deals before the chdlet. The Swiss couple 
were gone by that time. We were alone on the raft, so 
to speak. Mr. Razumov dropped into a chair, let fall 
his stick, and propped on his elbows, his head between 
his hands, stared at me persistently, openly, and con- 
tinuously, while I signalled the waiter and ordered some 
beer. I could not quarrel with this silent inspection 
very well, because, truth to tell, I felt somewhat guilty 
of having been sprung on him with some abruptness — 
of having " sprung from the ground," as he expressed it. J 

While waiting to be served I mentioned that, born 


from parents settled in St. Petersburg, I had acquired 
the language as a child. The town I did not remember, 
having left it for good as a boy of nine, but in later 
years I had renewed my acquaintance with the language. 
He listened, without as much as moving his eyes the 
least little bit. He had to change his position when the 
beer came, and the instant draining of his glass revived 
him. He leaned back in his chair and, folding his arms 
across his chest, continued to stare at me squarely. It 
occurred to me that his clean-shaven, almost swarthy 
face was really of the very mobile sort, and that the 
absolute stillness of it was the acquired habit of a revolu- 
tionist, of a conspirator everlastingly on his guard against 
self-betrayal in a world of secret spies. 

" But you are an Englishman — a teacher of English 
literature," he murmured, in a voice that was no longer 
issuing from a parched throat. " I have heard of you. 
People told me you have lived here for years." 

" Quite true. More than twenty years. And I 
have been assisting Miss Haldin with her English 

" You have been reading English poetry with her," 
he said, immovable now, like another man altogether, a 
complete stranger to the man of the heavy and uncertain 
footfalls a little while ago — at my elbow. 

" Yes, English poetry," I said. " But the trouble of 
which I speak was caused by an English newspaper." 

He continued to stare at me. I don't think he 
was aware that the story of the midnight arrest had 
been ferreted out by an English journalist and given to 
the world. When I explained this to him he muttered 
contemptuously, " It may have been altogether a lie." 

" I should think you are the best judge of that," I 
retorted, a little disconcerted. " I must confess that to 
me it looks to be true in the main." 


" How can you tell truth from lies ? " he queried in 
his new, immovable manner. 

" I don't know how you do it in Russia," I began, 
rather nettled by his attitude. He interrupted me. 

"In Russia, and in general everywhere — in a news- 
paper, for instance. The colour of the ink and the 
shapes of the letters are the same." 

" Well, there are other trifles one can go by. The 
character of the publication, the general verisimilitude of 
the news, the consideration of the motive, and so on. 
I don't trust blindly the accuracy of special corre- 
spondents — but why should this one have gone to the 
trouble of concocting a circumstantial falsehood on a 
matter of no importance to the world ? " 

" That's what it is," he grumbled. " What's going 
on with us is of no importance — a mere sensational story 
to amuse the readers of the papers — the superior con- 
temptuous Europe. It is hateful to think of. But let 
them wait a bit ! " 

He broke off on this sort of threat addressed to the 
western world. Disregarding the anger in his stare, I 
pointed out that whether the journalist was well- or ill- 
informed, the concern of the friends of these ladies was 
with the effect the few lines of print in question had 
produced — the effect alone. And surely he must be 
counted as one of the friends — if only for the sake of 
his late comrade and intimate fellow-revolutionist. At 
that point I thought he was going to speak vehemently ; 
but he only astounded me by the convulsive start of his 
whole body. He restrained himself, folded his loosened 
arms tighter across his chest, and sat back with a smile 
in which there was a twitch of scorn and malice. 

" Yes, a comrade and an intimate. . . . Very well," 
he said. 

" I ventured to speak to you on that assumption. 


And I cannot be mistaken. I was present when Peter 
Ivanovitch announced your arrival here to Miss Haldin, 
and I saw her relief and thankfuhiess when your name 
was mentioned. Afterwards she showed me her brother's 
letter, and read out the few words in which he alludes to 
you. What else but a friend could you have been ? " 

" Obviously. That's perfectly well known. A friend. 
Quite correct. ... Go on. You were talking of some 

I said to myself: " He puts on the callousness of a 
stern revolutionist, the insensibility to common emotions 
of a man devoted to a destructive idea. He is young, 
and his sincerity assumes a pose before a stranger, a 
foreigner, an old man. Youth must assert itself. . . ." 
As concisely as possible I exposed to him the state of 
mind poor Mrs. Haldin had been thrown into by the 
news of her son's untimely end. 

He listened — I felt it — with profound attention. 
His level stare deflected gradually downwards, left my 
face, and rested at last on the ground at his feet. 

" You can enter into the sister's feelings. As you 
said, I have only read a little English poetry with her, 
and I won't make myself ridiculous in your eyes by 
trying to speak of her. But you have seen her. She 
is one of these rare human beings that do not want 
explaining. At least I think so. They had only that 
son, that brother, for a link with the wider world, with 
the future. The very groundwork of active existence for 
Nathalie Haldin is gone with him. Can you wonder then 
that she turns with eagerness to the only man her 
brother mentions in his letters. Your name is a sort of 

"What could he have written of me?" he cried, in 
a low, exasperated tone. 

" Only a few words. It is not for me to repeat 


them to you, Mr. Razumov ; but you may believe my 
assertion that these words are forcible enough to make 
both his mother and his sister believe implicitly in the 
worth of your judgment and in the truth of anything 
you may have to say to them. It's impossible for you 
now to pass them by like strangers." 

I paused, and for a moment sat listening to the 
footsteps of the few people passing up and down the 
broad central walk. While I was speaking his head had 
sunk upon his breast above his folded arms. He raised 
it sharply. 

" Must I go then and lie to that old woman ! " 

It was not anger ; it was something else, something 
more poignant, and not so simple. I was aware of it 
sympathetically, while I was profoundly concerned at 
the nature of that exclamation. 

" Dear me ! Won't the truth do, then ? I hoped 
you could have told them something consoling. I am 
thinking of the poor mother now. Your Russia is a 
cruel country." 

He moved a little in his chair. 

" Yes," I repeated. " I thought you would have had 
something authentic to tell." 

The twitching of his lips before he spoke was 

" What if it is not worth telling? " 

" Not worth — from what point of view ? I don't 

" From every point of view." 

I spoke with some asperity. 

" I should think that anything which could explain 
the circumstances of that midnight arrest. . . ." 

" Reported by a journalist for the amusement of the 
civilized Europe," he broke in scornfully. 

" Yes, reported. . . . But aren't they true ? I can't 


make out your attitude in this? Either the man is a 
hero to you, or . . ." 

He approached his face with fiercely distended 
nostrils close to mine so suddenly that I had the 
greatest difficulty in not starting back. 

" You ask me 1 I suppose it amuses you, all this. 
Look here ! I am a worker. I studied. Yes, I studied 
very hard. There is intelligence here." (He tapped 
his forehead with his finger-tips.) " Don't you think a 
Russian may have sane ambitions ? Yes — I had even 
prospects. Certainly ! I had. And now you see me 
here, abroad, everything gone, lost, sacrificed. You see 
me here — and you ask ! You see me, don't you ? — ■ 
sitting before you." 

He threw himself back violently. I kept outwardly 

" Yes, I see you here ; and I assume you are here 
on account of the Haldin affair ? " 

His manner changed. 

" You call it the Haldin affair — do you ? " he 
observed indifferently. 

" I have no right to ask you anything," I said. *' I 
wouldn't presume. But in that case the mother and the 
sister of him who must be a hero in your eyes cannot be 
indifferent to you. The girl is a frank and generous 
creature, having the noblest — well — illusions. You will 
tell her nothing — or you will tell her everything. But 
speaking now of the object with which I've approached 
you : first, we have to deal with the morbid state of the 
mother. Perhaps something could be invented under 
your authority as a cure for a distracted and suffering 
soul filled with maternal affection." 

His air of weary indifference was accentuated, I 
could not help thinking, wilfully. 

" Oh yes. Something might," he mumbled carelessly. 


He put his hand over his mouth to conceal a 
yawn. When he uncovered his lips they were smiling 

" Pardon me. This has been a long conversation, and 
I have not had much sleep the last two nights." 

This unexpected, somewhat insolent sort of apology 
had the merit of being perfectly true. He had had no 
nightly rest to speak of since that day when, in the 
grounds of the Chateau Borel, the sister of Victor Haldin 
had appeared before him. The perplexities and the 
complex terrors — I may say — of this sleeplessness are 
recorded in the document I was to see later — the 
document which is the main source of this narrative. At 
the moment he looked to me convincingly tired, gone 
slack all over, like a man who has passed through some 
sort of crisis. 

" I have had a lot of urgent writing to do," he added. 

I rose from my chair at once, and he followed my 
example, without haste, a little heavily. 

" I must apologize for detaining you so long," I 

" Why apologize ? One can't very well go to bed 
before night. And you did not detain me. I could 
have left you at any time." 

I had not stayed with him to be offended. 

" I am glad you have been sufficiently interested," 
I said calmly. " No merit of mine, though — the 
commonest sort of regard for the mother of your friend 
was enough. ... As to Miss Haldin herself, she at 
one time was disposed to think that her brother had 
been betrayed to the police in some way." 

To my great surprise Mr. Razumov sat down again 
suddenly. I stared at him, and I must say that he 
returned my stare without winking for quite a con- 
siderable time. 


" In some way," he mumbled, as if he had not 
understood or could not believe his ears. 

" Some unforeseen event, a sheer accident might have 
done that," I went on. " Or, as she characteristically 
put it to me, the folly or weakness of some unhappy 

" Folly or weakness," he repeated bitterly. 

" She is a very generous creature," I observed after a 
time. The man admired by Victor Haldin fixed his eyes 
on the ground. I turned away and moved off, apparently 
unnoticed by him. I nourished no resentment of the 
moody brusqueness with which he had treated me. The 
sentiment I was carrying away from that conversation 
was that of hopelessness. Before I had got fairly 
clear of the raft of chairs and tables he had rejoined 

" H'm, yes ! " I heard him at my elbow again. 
" But what do you think ? " 

I did not look round even. 

" I think that you people are under a curse." 

He made no sound. It was only on the pavement 
outside the gate that I heard him again. 

" I should like to walk with you a little." 

After all, I preferred this enigmatical young man to 
his celebrated compatriot, the great Peter Ivanovitch. 
But I saw no reason for being particularly gracious. 

" I am going now to the railway station, by the 
shortest way from here, to meet a friend from England," 
I said, for all answer to his unexpected proposal. I 
hoped that something informing could come of it. As 
we stood on the curbstone waiting for a tramcar to pass, 
he remarked gloomily — 

" I like what you said just now." 

" Do you ? " 

We stepped off the pavement together. 


" The great problem," he went on, " is to understand 
thoroughly the nature of the curse." 

" That's not very difficult, I think." 

" I think so too," he agreed with me, and his 
readiness, strangely enough, did not make him less 
enigmatical in the least. 

" A curse is an evil spell," I tried him again. " And 
the important, the great problem, is to find the means to 
break it." 

" Yes. To find the means." 

That was also an assent, but he seemed to be 
thinking of something else. We had crossed diagonally 
the open space before the theatre, and began to descend 
a broad, sparely frequented street in the direction of one 
of the smaller bridges. He kept on by my side without 
speaking for a long time. 

"Youarenot thinkingof leavingGeneva soon?" I asked. 

He was silent for so long that I began to think I 
had been indiscreet, and should get no answer at all. 
Yet on looking at him I almost believed that my 
question had caused him something in the nature of 
positive anguish. I detected it mainly in the clasping of 
his hands, in which he put a great force stealthily. Once, 
however, he had overcome that sort of agonizing 
hesitation sufficiently to tell me that he had no such 
intention, he became rather communicative — at least 
relatively to the former off-hand curtness of his speeches. 
The tone, too, was more amiable. He informed me that 
he intended to study and also to write. He went even 
so far as to tell me he had been to Stuttgart. Stuttgart, 
I was aware, was one of the revolutionary centres. The 
directing committee of one of the Russian parties (I can't 
tell now which) was located in that town. It was there 
that he got into touch with the active work of the 
revolutionists outside Russia. 


" I have never been abroad before," he explained, in 
a rather inanimate voice now. Then, after a slight 
hesitation, altogether different from the agonizing ir- 
resolution my first simple question " whether he meant 
to stay in Geneva " had aroused, he made me an 
unexpected confidence — 

" The fact is, I have received a sort of mission from 

" Which will keep you here in Geneva ? " 

" Yes. Here. In this odious . . ." 

I was satisfied with my faculty for putting two and 
two together when I drew the inference that the mission 
had something to do with the person of the great 
Peter Ivanovitch. But I kept that surmise to myself 
naturally, and Mr. Razumov said nothing more for 
some considerable time. It was only when we were 
nearly on the bridge we had been making for that he 
opened his lips again, abruptly — 

" Could I see that precious article anywhere ? " 

I had to think for a moment before I saw what he 
was referring to. 

" It has been reproduced in parts by the Press here. 
There are files to be seen in various places. My copy 
of the English newspaper I have left with Miss Haldin, 
I remember, on the day after it reached me. I was 
sufficiently worried by seeing it lying on a table by the 
side of the poor mother's chair for weeks. Then it 
disappeared. It was a relief, I assure you." 

He had stopped short. 

"I trust," I continued, "that you will find time to 
see these ladies fairly often — that you will make time," 

He stared at me so queerly that I hardly know 

how to define his aspect, I could not understand it in 

this connexion at all. What ailed him ? I asked myself. 

What strange thought had come into his head ? What 



vision of all the horrors that can be seen in his hopeless 
country had come suddenly to haunt his brain ? If it 
were anything connected with the fate of Victor Haldin, 
then I hoped earnestly he would keep it to himself for 
ever. I was, to speak plainly, so shocked that I tried 
to conceal my impression by — Heaven forgive me — a 
smile and the assumption of a light manner. 

" Surely," I exclaimed, " that needn't cost you a 
great effort." 

He turned away from me and leaned over the 
parapet of the bridge. For a moment I waited, looking 
at his back. And yet, I assure you, I was not anxious 
just then to look at his face again. He did not move 
at all. He did not mean to move. I walked on 
slowly on my way towards the station, and at the end 
of the bridge I glanced over my shoulder. No, he had 
not moved. He hung well over the parapet, as if 
captivated by the smooth rush of the blue water under 
the arch. The current there is swift, extremely swift ; 
it makes some people dizzy ; I myself can never look 
at it for any length of time without experiencing a 
dread of being suddenly snatched away by its destruc- 
tive force. Some brains cannot resist the suggestion of 
irresistible power and of headlong motion. 

It apparently had a charm for Mr. Razumov. I 
left him hanging far over the parapet of the bridge. 
The way he had behaved to me could not be put down 
to mere boorishness. There was something else under 
his scorn and impatience. Perhaps, I thought, with 
sudden approach to hidden truth, it was the same 
thing which had kept him over a week, nearly ten days 
indeed, from coming near Miss Haldin. But what it 
was I could not tell. 


THE water under the bridge ran violent and deep. Its 
slightly undulating rush seemed capable of scour- 
ing out a channel for itself through solid granite while you 
looked. But had it flowed through Razumov's breast, 
it could not have washed away the accumulated bitter- 
ness the wrecking of his life had deposited there. 

" What is the meaning of all this ? " he thought, 
staring downwards at the headlong flow so smooth and 
clean that only the passage of a faint air-bubble, or a 
thin vanishing streak of foam like a white hair, disclosed 
its vertiginous rapidity, its terrible force. " Why has 
that meddlesome old Englishman blundered against 
me? And what is this silly tale of a crazy old 
woman? " 

He was trying to think brutally on purpose, but he 
avoided any mental reference to the young girl. " A 
crazy old woman," he repeated to himself. " It is a 
fatality ! Or ought I to despise all this as absurd ? 
But no ! I am wrong ! I can't afford to despise any- 
thing. An absurdity may be the starting-point of the 
most dangerous complications. How is one to guard 
against it? It puts to rout one's intelligence. The 
more intelligent one is the less one suspects an 

A wave of wrath choked his thoughts for a moment. 
It even made his body leaning over the parapet quiver ; 



then he resumed his silent thinking, like a secret 
dialogue with himself. And even in that privacy, his 
thought had some reservations of which he was vaguely 

" After all, this is not absurd. It is insignificant. 
It is absolutely insignificant — absolutely. The craze of 
an old woman — the fussy officiousness of a blundering 
elderly Englishman. What devil put him in the way ? 
Haven't I treated him cavalierly enough ? Haven't I 
just? That's the way to treat these meddlesome 
persons. Is it possible that he still stands behind my 
back, waiting ? " 

Razumov felt a faint chill run down his spine. It 
was not fear. He was certain that it was not fear — 
not fear for himself — but it was, all the same, a sort of 
apprehension as if for another, for some one he knew 
without being able to put a name on the personality. 
But the recollection that the officious Englishman had a 
train to meet tranquillized him for a time. It was too 
stupid to suppose that he should be wasting his time in 
waiting. It was unnecessary to look round and make 

But what did the man mean by his extraordinary 
rigmarole about the newspaper, and that crazy old 
woman? he thought suddenly. It was a damnable 
presumption, anyhow, something that only an English- 
man could be capable of. All this was a sort of sport 
for him — the sport of revolution — a game to look at 
from the height of his superiority. And what on 
earth did he mean by his exclamation, " Won't the 
truth do ? " 

Razumov pressed his folded arms to the stone 
coping over which he was leaning with force. " Won't 
the truth do ? The truth for the crazy old mother of 
the " 


The young man shuddered again. Yes. The 
truth would do ! Apparently it would do. Exactly. 
And receive thanks, he thought, formulating the un- 
spoken words cynically. " Fall on my neck in grati- 
tude, no doubt," he jeered mentally. But this mood 
abandoned him at once. He felt sad, as if his heart 
had become empty suddenly, " Well, I must be 
cautious," he concluded, coming to himself as though 
his brain had been awakened from a trance. " There is 
nothing, no one, too insignificant, too absurd to be dis- 
regarded," he thought wearily. " I must be cautious." 

Razumov pushed himself with his hand away from 
the balustrade and, retracing his steps along the bridge, 
walked straight to his lodgings, where, for a few days, 
he led a solitary and retired existence. He neglected 
Peter Ivanovitch, to whom he was accredited by the 
Stuttgart group ; he never went near the refugee re- 
volutionists, to whom he had been introduced on his 
arrival. He kept out of that world altogether. And 
he felt that such conduct, causing surprise and arousing 
suspicion, contained an element of danger for himself 

This is not to say that during these few days he 
never went out. I met him several times in the streets, 
but he gave me no recognition. Once, going home 
after an evening call on the ladies Haldin, I saw him 
crossing the dark roadway of the Boulevard des 
Philosophes, He had a broad-brimmed soft hat, and 
the collar of his coat turned up. I watched him make 
straight tor the house, but, instead of going in, he 
stopped opposite the still lighted windows, and after a 
time went away down a side-street. 

I knew that he had not been to see Mrs. Haldin yet. 
Miss Haldin told me he was reluctant ; moreover, the 
mental condition of Mrs. Haldin had changed. She 
seemed to think now that her son was living, and she 


perhaps awaited his arrival. Her immobility in the great 
arm-chair in front of the window had an air of expect- 
ancy, even when the blind was down and the lamps 

For my part, I was convinced that she had received 
her death-stroke ; Miss Haldin, to whom, of course, I said 
nothing of my forebodings, thought that no good would 
come from introducing Mr. Razumov just then, an opinion 
which I shared fully. I knew that she met the young 
man on the Bastions. Once or twice I saw them stroll- 
ing slowly up the main alley. They met every day for 
weeks. I avoided passing that way during the hour 
when Miss Haldin took her exercise there. One day, 
however, in a fit of absent-mindedness, I entered the 
gates and came upon her walking alone. I stopped to 
exchange a few words. Mr. Razumov failed to turn up, 
and we began to talk about him — naturally. 

" Did he tell you anything definite about your 
brother's activities — his end ? " I ventured to ask. 

" No," admitted Miss Haldin, with some hesitation. 
" Nothing definite." 

I understood well enough that all their conversations 
must have been referred mentally to that dead man who 
had brought them together. That was unavoidable. But 
it was in the living man that she was interested. That 
was unavoidable too, I suppose. And as I pushed my 
inquiries I discovered that he had disclosed himself to 
her as a by no means conventional revolutionist, con- 
temptuous of catchwords, of theories, of men too. I was 
rather pleased at that — but I was a little puzzled. 

" His mind goes forward, far ahead of the struggle," 
Miss Haldin explained. " Of course, he is an actual 
worker too," she added. 

"And do you understand him?" I inquired point- 


She hesitated again. " Not altogether," she mur- 

I perceived that he had fascinated her by an assump- 
tion of mysterious reserve. 

" Do you know what I think ? " she went on, breaking 
through her reserved, almost reluctant attitude : " I think 
that he is observing, studying me, to discover whether I 
am worthy of his trust . . ." 

" And that pleases you ? " 

She kept mysteriously silent for a moment. Then 
with energy, but in a confidential tone — 

" I am convinced," she declared, " that this extra- 
ordinary man is meditating some vast plan, some great 
undertaking ; he is possessed by it — he suffers from it — 
and from being alone in the world." 

" And so he's looking for helpers ? " I commented, 
turning away my head. 

Again there was a silence. 

" Why not ? " she said at last. 

The dead brother, the dying mother, the foreign 
friend, had fallen into a distant background. But, at the 
same time, Peter Ivanovitch was absolutely nowhere now. 
And this thought consoled me. Yet I saw the gigantic 
shadow of Russian life deepening around her like the 
darkness of an advancing night. It would devour her 
presently. I inquired after Mrs, Haldin — that other 
victim of the deadly shade. 

A remorseful uneasiness appeared in her frank eyes. 
Mother seemed no worse, but if I only knew what strange 
fancies she had sometimes ! Then Miss Haldin, glancing 
at her watch, declared that she could not stay a moment 
longer, and with a hasty hand-shake ran off lightly. 

Decidedly, Mr. Razumov was not to turn up that 
day. Incomprehensible youth ! . . . 

But less than an hour afterwards, while crossing the 


Place Mollard, I caught sight of him boarding a South 
Shore tramcar. 

" He's going to the Chateau Borel," I thought. 

a • • • • t • 

After depositing Razumov at the gates of the Chateau 
Borel, some half a mile or so from the town, the car 
continued its journey between two straight lines of shady 
trees. Across the roadway in the sunshine a short wooden 
pier jutted into the shallow pale water, which farther out 
had an intense blue tint contrasting unpleasantly with the 
green orderly slopes on the opposite shore. The whole 
view, with the harbour jetties of white stone underlining 
lividly the dark front of the town to the left, and the 
expanding space of water to the right with jutting pro- 
montories of no particular character, had the uninspiring, 
glittering quality of a very fresh oleograph.^ Razumov 
turned his back on it with contempt. He thought it 
odious — oppressively odious — in its unsuggestive finish : 
the very perfection of mediocrity attained at last after 
centuries of toil and culture. And turning his back on 
it, he faced the entrance to the grounds of the Chateau 

The bars of the central way and the wrought- iron 
arch between the dark weather-stained stone piers were 
very rusty ; and, though fresh tracks of wheels ran under 
it, the gate looked as if it had not been opened for a 
very long time. But close against the lodge, built of the 
same grey stone as the piers (its windows were all 
boarded up), there was a small side entrance. The bars 
of that were rusty too ; it stood ajar and looked as though 
it had not been closed for a long time. In fact, Razumov, 
trying to push it open a little wider, discovered it was 

" Democratic virtue. There are no thieves here, 
apparently," he muttered to himself, with displeasure. 


Before advancing into the grounds he looked back sourly 
at an idle working man lounging on a bench in the clean, 
broad avenue. The fellow had thrown his feet up ; one 
of his arms hung over the low back of the public seat ; 
he was taking a day off in lordly repose, as if everything 
in sight belonged to him, 

^^^fElector ! Eligible ! Enlightened ! " Razumov mut- 
tered to himself. " A brute, all the same." 

Razumov entered the grounds and walked fast up the 
wide sweep of the drive, trying to think of nothing — to 
rest his head, to rest his emotions too. But arriving at 
the foot of the terrace before the house he faltered, affected 
physically by some invisible interference. The mysterious- 
ness of his quickened heart-beats startled him. He stopped 
short and looked at the brick wall of the terrace, faced 
with shallow arches, meagrely clothed by a few unthriving 
creepers, with an ill-kept narrow flower-bed along its foot. 

"It is here ! " he thought, with a sort of awe. " It is 
here — on this very spot . . ." 

He was tempted to flight at the mere recollection of 
his first meeting with Nathalie Haldin. He confessed it 
to himself; but he did not move, and that not because 
he wished to resist an unworthy weakness, but because he 
knew that he had no place to fly to. Moreover, he could 
not leave Geneva. He recognized, even without thinking, 
that it was impossible. It would have been a fatal ad- 
mission, an act of moral suicide. It would have been 
also physically dangerous. Slowly he ascended the stairs 
of the terrace, flanked by two stained greenish stone urns 
of funereal aspect. 

Across the broad platform, where a few blades of 
grass sprouted on the discoloured gravel, the door of the 
house, with its ground -floor windows shuttered, faced him, 
wide open. He believed that his approach had been 
noted, because, framed in the doorway, without his tall 


hat, Peter Ivanovitch seemed to be waiting for his 

The ceremonious black fT'ck-coat and the bared head 
of Europe's greatest feminist accentuated the dubiousness 

of his status in the house rented by Madame de S , 

his Egeria. His aspect combined the formality of the 
caller with the freedom of the proprietor. Florid and 
bearded and masked by the dark blue glasses, he met 
the visitor, and at once took him familiarly under the arm. 

Razumov suppressed every sign of repugnance by 
an effort which the constant necessity of prudence had 
rendered almost mechanical. And this necessity had 
settled his expression in a cast of austere, almost 
fanatical, aloofness. The " heroic fugitive," impressed 
afresh by the severe detachment of this new arrival from 
revolutionary Russia, took a conciliatory, even a confi- 
dential tone. Madame de S was resting after a bad 

night. She often had bad nights. He had left his hat 
upstairs on the landing and had come down to suggest 
to his young friend a stroll and a good open-hearted talk 
in one of the shady alleys behind the house. After 
voicing this proposal, the great man glanced at the un- 
moved face by his side, and could not restrain himself 
from exclaiming — 

" On my word, young man, you are an extraordinary 

" I fancy you are mistaken, Peter Ivanovitch. If I 
were really an extraordinary person, I would not be here, 
walking with you in a garden in Switzerland, Canton of 
Geneva, Commune of — what's the name of the Commune 
this place belongs to? . . . Never mind — the heart of 
democracy, anyhow. A fit heart for it ; no bigger than 
a parched pea and about as much value. I am no more 
extraordinary than the rest of us Russians, wandering 


But Peter Ivanovitch dissented emphatically — 

" No ! No ! You are not ordinary. I have some 
experience of Russians who are — well — living abroad. 
You appear to me, and to others too, a marked person- 

" What does he mean by this ? " Razumov asked him- 
self, turning his eyes fully on his companion. The face 
of Peter Ivanovitch expressed a meditative seriousness. 

"You don't suppose, Kirylo Sidorovitch, that I have 
not heard of you from various points where you made 
yourself known on your way here? I have had letters." 

" Oh, we are great in talking about each other," in- 
terjected Razumov, who had listened with great atten- 
tion. " Gossip, tales, suspicions, and all that sort of 
thing, we know how to deal in to perfection. Calumny, 

In indulging in this sally, Razumov managed very 
well to conceal the feeling of anxiety which had come 
over him. At the same time he was saying to himself 
that there could be no earthly reason for anxiety. He 
was relieved by the evident sincerity of the protesting 

" Heavens ! " cried Peter Ivanovitch. " What are you 
talking about ? What reason can you have to . . . ? " 

The great exile flung up his arms as if words had 
failed him in sober truth. Razumov was satisfied. Yet 
he was moved to continue in the same vein. 

" I am talking of the poisonous plants which flourish 
in the world of conspirators, like evil mushrooms in a 
dark cellar." 

" You are casting aspersions," remonstrated Peter 
Ivanovitch, " which as far as you are concerned " 

" No ! " Razumov interrupted without heat. " In- 
deed, I don't want to cast aspersions, but it's just as well 
to have no illusions." 


Peter Ivanovitch gave him an inscrutable glance of 
his dark spectacles, accompanied by a faint smile. 

" The man who says that he has no illusions has at 
least that one," he said, in a very friendly tone. " But I 
see how it is, Kirylo Sidorovitch. You aim at stoicism." 

" Stoicism ! That's a pose of the Greeks and the 
Romans. Let's leave it to them. We are Russians, 
that is — children ; that is — sincere ; that is — cynical, if 
you like. But that's not a pose." 

A long silence ensued. They strolled slowly under 
the lime-trees. Peter Ivanovitch had put his hands 
behind his back. Razumov felt the ungravelled ground 
of the deeply shaded walk damp and as if slippery 
under his feet. He asked himself, with uneasiness, if he 
were saying the right things. The direction of the 
conversation ought to have been more under his control, 
he reflected. The great man appeared to be reflecting 
on his side too. He cleared his throat slightly, and 
Razumov felt at once a painful reawakening of scorn 
and fear. 

" I am astonished," began Peter Ivanovitch gently. 
" Supposing you are right in your indictment, how can 
you raise any question of calumny or gossip, in your 
case ? It is unreasonable. The fact is, Kirylo Sidoro- 
vitch, there is not enough known of you to give hold to 
gossip or even calumny. Just now you are a man 
associated with a great deed, which had been hoped for, 
and tried for too, without success. People have perished 
for attempting that which you and Haldin have done at 
last. You come to us out of Russia, with that prestige. 
But you cannot deny that you have not been communi- 
cative, Kirylo Sidorovitch. People you have met im- 
parted their impressions to me ; one wrote this, another 
that, but I form my own opinions. I waited to see you 
first. You are a man out of the common. That's 


positively so. You are close, very close. This taci- 
turnity, this severe brow, this something inflexible and 
secret in you, inspires hopes and a little wonder as 
to what you may mean. There is something of a 
Brutus . . ." 

"Fray spare me those classical allusions ! " burst out 
Razumov nervously. " What comes Junius Brutus to 
do here? It is ridiculous! Do you mean to say," he 
added sarcastically, but lowering his voice, " that the 
Russian revolutionists are all patricians and that I am 
an aristocrat ? " 

Peter Ivanovitch, who had been helping himself with 
a few gestures, clasped his hands again behind his back, 
and made a few steps, pondering. 

" Not all patricians," he muttered at last. " But you, 
at any rate, are one of us" 

Razumov smiled bitterly. 

" To be sure my name is not Gugenheimer," he said 
in a sneering tone. " I am not a democratic Jevy. How 
can I help it ? Not everybody has such luck. I have 
no name, I have no . . ." 

The European celebrity showed a great concern. 
He stepped back a pace and his arms flew in front of 
his person, extended, deprecatory, almost entreating. 
His deep bass voice was full of pain. 

" But, my dear young friend ! " he cried. " My dear 
Kirylo Sidorovitch . . ." 

Razumov shook his head. 

" The very patronymic you are so civil as to use 
when addressing me I have no legal right to — but what 
of that ? I don't wish to claim it. I have no father. 
So much the better. But I will tell you what : my 
mother's grandfather was a peasant — a serf. See how 
much I am one of you. I don't want anyone to claim 
me. But Russia carit disown me. She cannot ! " 


Razumov struck his breast with his fist. 

" I am it ! " 

Peter Ivanovitch walked on slowly, his head lowered. 
Razumov followed, vexed with himself. That was not 
the right sort of talk. All sincerity was an imprudence. 
Yet one could not renounce truth altogether, he thought, 
with despair. Peter Ivanovitch, meditating behind his 
dark glasses, became to him suddenly so odious that if 
he had had a knife, he fancied he could have stabbed 
him not only without compunction, but with a horrible, 
triumphant satisfaction. His imagination dwelt on that 
atrocity in spite of himself It was as if he were be- 
coming light-headed. " It is not what is expected of 
me," he repeated to himself. " It is not what is — I 
could get away by breaking the fastening on the little 
gate I see there in the back wall. It is a flimsy lock. 
Nobody in the house seems to know he is here with me. 
Oh yes. The hat ! These women would discover 
presently the hat he has left on the landing. They 
would come upon him, lying dead in this damp, gloomy 
shade — but I would be gone and no one could ever . . . 
Lord ! Am I going mad ? " he asked himself in a fright. 

The great man was heard — musing in an undertone. 

" H'm, yes ! That — no doubt — in a certain sense . . ." 
He raised his voice. " There is a deal of pride about 
you . . ." 

The intonation of Peter Ivanovitch took on a homely, 
familiar ring, acknowledging, in a way, Razumov's claim 
to peasant descent. 

" A great deal of pride, brother Kirylo. And I don't 
say that you have no justification for it. I have admitted 
you had. I have ventured to allude to the facts of your 
birth simply because I attach no mean importance to it. 
You are one of us — tm des notres, I reflect on that with 


" I attach some importance to it also," said Razumov 
quietly. " I won't even deny that it may have some 
importance for you too," he continued, after a slight 
pause and with a touch of grimness of which he was 
himself aware, with some annoyance. He hoped it had 
escaped the perception of Peter Ivanovitch, " But 
suppose we talk no more about it ? " 

" Well, we shall not — not after this one time, Kirylo 
Sidorovitch," persisted the noble arch-priest of Revolution. 
" This shall be the last occasion. You cannot believe 
for a moment that I had the slightest idea of wounding 
your feelings. You are clearly a superior nature — that's 
how I read you. Quite above the common — h'm — 
susceptibilities. But the fact is, Kirylo Sidorovitch, I 
don't know your susceptibilities. Nobody, out of Russia, 
knows much of you — as yet ! " 

" You have been watching me ? " suggested Razumov. 

" Yes." 

The great man had spoken in a tone of perfect 
frankness, but as they turned their faces to each other 
Razumov felt baffled by the dark spectacles. Under 
their cover, Peter Ivanovitch hinted that he had felt for 
some time the need of meeting a man of energy and 
character, in view of a certain project. He said nothing 
more precise, however ; and after some critical remarks 
upon the personalities of the various members of the 
committee of revolutionary action in Stuttgart, he let the 
conversation lapse for quite a long while. They paced 
the alley from end to end. Razumov, silent too, raised 
his eyes from time to time to cast a glance at the back 
of the house. It offered no sign of being inhabited. 
With its grimy, weather-stained walls and all the windows 
shuttered from top to bottom, it looked damp and 
gloomy and deserted. It might very well have been 
haunted in traditional style by some doleful, groaning, 


futile ghost of a middle-class order. The shades evoked, 

as worldly rumour had it, by Madame de S to meet 

statesmen, diplomatists, deputies of various European 
Parliaments, must have been of another sort. Razumov 
had never seen Madame de S but in the carriage. 

Peter Ivanovitch came out of his abstraction. 

" Two things I may say to you at once. I believe, 
first, that neither a leader nor any decisive action can 
come out of the dregs of a people. Now, if you ask me 
what are the dregs of a people — h'm — it would take too 
long to tell. You would be surprised at the variety of 
ingredients that for me go to the making up of these 
dregs — of that which ought, must remain at the bottom. 
Moreover, such a statement might be subject to discussion. 
But I can tell you what is not the dregs. On that it is 
impossible for us to disagree. The peasantry of a people 
is not the dregs ; neither is its highest class — well — the 
nobility. Reflect on that, Kirylo Sidorovitch ! I believe 
you are well fitted for reflection. Everything in a people 
that is not genuine, not its own by origin or develop- 
ment, is — well — dirt! Intelligence in the wrong place 
is that. Foreign-bred doctrines are that. Dirt ! Dregs ! 
The second thing I would offer to your meditation is 
this : that for us at this moment there yawns a chasm 
between the past and the future. It can never be bridged 
by foreign liberalism. All attempts at it are either folly 
or cheating. Bridged it can never be ! It has to be 
filled up." 

A sort of sinister jocularity had crept into the tones 
of the burly feminist. He seized Razumov's arm above 
the elbow, and gave it a slight shake. 

" Do you understand, enigmatical young man ? It 
has got to be just filled up." 

Razumov kept an unmoved countenance. 

" Don't you think that I have already gone beyond 


meditation on that subject ? " he said, freeing his arm by 
a quiet movement which increased the distance a little 
between himself and Peter Ivanovitch, as they went on 
strolling abreast. And he added that surely whole cart- 
loads of words and theories could never fill that chasm. 
No meditation was necessary. A sacrifice of many lives 

could alone He fell silent without finishing the 


Peter Ivanovitch inclined his big hairy head slowly. 
After a moment he proposed that they should go and see 
if Madame de S was now visible. 

" We shall get some tea," he said, turning out of the 
shaded gloomy walk with a brisker step. 

The lady companion had been on the look out. Her 
dark skirt whisked into the doorway as the two men 
came in sight round the corner. She ran off somewhere 
altogether, and had disappeared when they entered the 
hall. In the crude light falling from the dusty glass 
skylight upon the black and white tessellated floor, 
covered with muddy tracks, their footsteps echoed faintly. 
The great feminist led the way up the stairs. On the 
balustrade of the first-floor landing a shiny tall hat 
reposed, rim upwards, opposite the double door of the 
drawing-room, haunted, it was said, by evoked ghosts, and 
frequented, it was to be supposed, by fugitive revolution- 
ists. The cracked white paint of the panels, the tarnished 
gilt of the mouldings, permitted one to imagine nothing 
but dust and emptiness within. Before turning the 
massive brass handle, Peter Ivanovitch gave his young 
companion a sharp, partly critical, partly preparatory 

" No one is perfect," he murmured discreetly. Thus, 
the possessor of a rare jewel might, before opening 
the casket, warn the profane that no gem perhaps is 



He remained with his hand on the door-handle so 
long that Razumov assented by a moody " No." 

" Perfection itself would not produce that effect," 
pursued Peter Ivanovitch, "in a world not meant for it. 
But you shall find there a mind — no ! — the quintessence 
of feminine intuition which will understand any perplexity 
you may be suffering from by the irresistible, enlightening 
force of sympathy. Nothing can remain obscure before 
that — that — inspired, yes, inspired penetration, this true 
light of femininity." 

The gaze of the dark spectacles in its glossy stead- 
fastness gave his face an air of absolute conviction. 
Razumov felt a momentary shrinking before that closed 

"Penetration? Light," he stammered out. "Do 
you mean some sort of thought-reading ? " 

Peter Ivanovitch seemed shocked. 

" I mean something utterly different," he retorted, 
with a faint, pitying smile. 

Razumov began to feel angry, very much against his 

" This is very mysterious," he muttered through his 

" You don't object to being understood, to being 
guided ? " queried the great feminist. 

Razumov exploded in a fierce whisper. 

"In what sense? Be pleased to understand that 
I am a serious person. Who do you take me 

They looked at each other very closely. Razumov's 
temper was cooled by the impenetrable earnestness of 
the blue glasses meeting his stare. Peter Ivanovitch 
turned the handle at last. 

" You shall know directly," he said, pushing the door 


A low-pitched grating voice was heard within the 

" Enfin. Vous voi!d,V 

In the doorway, his black-coated bulk blocking the 
view, Peter Ivanovitch boomed in a hearty tone with 
something boastful in it. 

" Yes. Here I am ! " 

He glanced over his shoulder at Razumov, who 
waited for him to move on. 

" And I am bringing you a proved conspirator — a 
real one this time. Uti vraicelui la!' 

This pause in the doorway gave the " proved con- 
spirator" time to make sure that his face did not betray 
his angry curiosity and his mental disgust. 

These sentiments stand confessed in Mr. Razumov's 
memorandum of his first interview with Madame de 

S . The very words I use in my narrative are 

written where their sincerity cannot be suspected. The 
record, which could not have been meant for anyone's 
eyes but his own, was not, I think, the outcome of that 
strange impulse of indiscretion common to men who lead 
secret lives, and accounting for the invariable existence 
of " compromising documents" in all the plots and con- 
spiracies of history. Mr. Razumov looked at it, I suppose, 
as a man looks at himself in a mirror, with wonder, 
perhaps with anguish, with anger or despair. Yes, as a 
threatened man may look fearfully at his own face in the 
glass, formulating to himself reassuring excuses for his 
appearance marked by the taint of some insidious hered- 
itary disease. 



The Egeria of the " Russian Mazzini " produced, at first 
view, a strong effect by the death-like immobility ot 
an obviously painted face. The eyes appeared extra- 
ordinarily brilliant. The figure, in a close-fitting dress, 
admirably made, but by no means fresh, had an elegant 
stiffness. The rasping voice inviting him to sit down ; 
the rigidity of the upright attitude with one arm ex- 
tended along the back of the sofa, the white gleam of 
the big eyeballs setting off the black, fathomless stare 
of the enlarged pupils, impressed Razumov more than 
anything he had seen since his hasty and secret departure 
from St. Petersburg. A witch in Parisian clothes, he 
thought. A portent ! He actually hesitated in his 
advance, and did not even comprehend, at first, what 
the rasping voice was saying. 

" Sit down. Draw your chair nearer me. There " 

He sat down. At close quarters the rouged cheek- 
bones, the wrinkles, the fine lines on each side of the 
vivid lips, astounded him. He was being received 
graciously, with a smile which made him think of a 
grinning skull. 

" We have been hearing about you for some time." 

He did not know what to say, and murmured some 
disconnected words. The grinning skull effect van- 

" And do you know that the general complaint is 
that you have shown yourself very reserved every- 
where ? " 

Razumov remained silent for a time, thinking of his 

" I, don't you see, am a man of action," he said 
huskily, glancing upwards. 


Peter Ivanovitch stood in portentous expectant 
silence by the side of his chair. A slight feeling of 
nausea came over Razumov, What could be the 
relations of these two people to each other? She like 
a galvanized corpse out of some Hoffman's Tale — he the 
preacher of feminist gospel for all the world, and a super- 
revolutionist besides ! This ancient, painted mummy 
with unfathomable eyes, and this burly, bull-necked, 
deferential . . . what was it ? Witchcraft, fascination. 
..." It's for her money," he thought. " She has 
millions !" 

The walls, the floor of the room were bare like a 
barn. The few pieces of furniture had been discovered 
in the garrets and dragged down into service without 
having been properly dusted, even. It was the refuse 
the banker's widow had left behind her. The windows 
without curtains had an indigent, sleepless look. In 
two of them the dirty yellowy-white blinds had been 
pulled down. All this spoke, not of poverty, but of 
sordid penuriousness. 

The hoarse voice on the sofa uttered angrily — 

" You are looking round, Kirylo Sidorovitch. I 
have been shamefully robbed, positively ruined." 

A rattling laugh, which seemed beyond her control, 
interrupted her for a moment. 

" A slavish nature would find consolation in the fact 
that the principal robber was an exalted and almost a 
sacrosanct person — a Grand Duke, in fact. Do you 
understand, Mr. Razumov? A Grand Duke — No! You 
have no idea what thieves those people are ! Downright 
thieves ! " 

Her bosom heaved, but her left arm remained rigidly 
extended along the back of the couch. 

" You will only upset yourself," breathed out a deep 
voice, which, to Razumov's startled glance, seemed to 


proceed from under the steady spectacles of Peter 
Ivanovitch, rather than from his lips, which had hardly 

" What of that ? I say thieves ! Voleurs ! Voleurs ! " 

Razumov was quite confounded by this unexpected 
clamour, which had in it something of wailing and croak- 
ing, and more than a suspicion of hysteria. 

" Voleurs ! Voleurs ! Vol . . ." 

" No power on earth can rob you of your genius," 
shouted Peter Ivanovitch in an overpowering bass, but 
without stirring, without a gesture of any kind. A 
profound silence fell. 

Razumov remained outwardly impassive. " What is 
the meaning of this performance?" he was asking him- 
self. But with a preliminary sound of bumping outside 
some door behind him, the lady companion, in a thread- 
bare black skirt and frayed blouse, came in rapidly, 
walking on her heels, and carrying in both hands a big 
Russian samovar, obviously too heavy for her. Razumov 
made an instinctive movement to help, which startled 
her so much that she nearly dropped her hissing burden. 
She managed, however, to land it on the table, and 
looked so frightened that Razumov hastened to sit down. 
She produced then, from an adjacent room, four glass 
tumblers, a teapot, and a sugar-basin, on a black iron 

The rasping voice asked from the sofa abruptly — 

" Les gateaux ? Have you remembered to bring 
the cakes ? " 

Peter Ivanovitch, without a word, marched out on 
to the landing, and returned instantly with a parcel 
wrapped up in white glazed paper, which he must have 
extracted from the interior of his hat. With imperturb- 
able gravity he undid the string and smoothed the paper 
open on a part of the table within reach of Madame de 


S 's hand. The lady companion poured out the tea, 

then retired into a distant corner out of everybody's 

sight. From time to time Madame de S extended 

a claw-like hand, glittering with costly rings, towards 
the paper of cakes, took up one and devoured it, dis- 
playing her big false teeth ghoulishly. Meantime she 
talked in a hoarse tone of the political situation in 
the Balkans. She built great hopes on some com- 
plication in the peninsula for arousing a great movement 
of national indignation in Russia against " these thieves 
— thieves — thieves." 

"You will only upset yourself," Peter Ivanovitch 
interposed, raising his glassy gaze. He smoked cigarettes 
and drank tea in silence, continuously. When he had 
finished a glass, he flourished his hand above his shoulder. 
At that signal the lady companion, ensconced in her 
corner, with round eyes like a watchful animal, would 
dart out to the table and pour him out another 

Razumov looked at her once or twice. She was 

anxious, tremulous, though neither Madame de S nor 

Peter Ivanovitch paid the slightest attention to her. 
" What have they done between them to that forlorn 
creature ? " Razumov asked himself " Have they terrified 
her out of her senses with ghosts, or simply have they 
^^only^ been beating her?" When she gave him his 
second glass of tea, he noticed that her lips trembled 
in the manner of a scared person about to burst into 
speech. But of course she said nothing, and retired 
into her corner, as if hugging to herself the smile of 
thanks he gave her. 

" She may be worth cultivating," thought Razumov 

He was calming down, getting hold of the actuality 
into which he had been thrown — for the first time 


perhaps since Victor Haldin had entered his room . . . 
and had gone out again. He was distinctly aware of 
being the object of the famous — or notorious — Madame 

de S 's ghastly graciousness. 

■ Madame de S was pleased to discover that this 

young man was different from the other types of re- 
volutionist members of committees, secret emissaries, 
vulgar and unmannerly fugitive professors, rough students, 
ex-cobblers with apostolic faces, consumptive and ragged 
enthusiasts, Hebrew youths, common fellows of all sorts 
that used to come and go around Peter Ivanovitch — 
fanatics, pedants, proletarians all. It was pleasant to 
talk to this young man of notably good appearance — 

for Madame de S was not always in a mystical state 

of mind. Razumov's taciturnity only excited her to a 
quicker, more voluble utterance. It still dealt with 
the Balkans. She knew all the statesmen of that region, 
Turks, Bulgarians, Montenegrins, Roumanians, Greeks, 
Armenians, and nondescripts, young and old, the living 
and the dead. With some money an intrigue could be 
started which would set the Peninsula in a blaze and 
outrage the sentiment of the Russian people. A cry of 
abandoned brothers could be raised, and then, with the 
nation seething with indignation, a couple of regiments 
or so would be enough to begin a military revolution in 
St. Petersburg and make an end of these thieves. . . . 

" Apparently I've got only to sit still and listen," the 
silent Razumov thought to himself. "As to that hairy 
and obscene brute" (in such terms did Mr. Razumov 
refer mentally to the popular expounder of a feministic 
conception of social state), " as to him, for all his cunning 
he too shall speak out some day." 

Razumov ceased to think for a moment. Then a 
sombre-toned reflection formulated itself in his mind, 
ironical and bitter. " I have the gift of inspiring con- 


fidence." He heard himself laughing aloud. It was 
like a goad to the painted, shiny-eyed harridan on the 

" You may well laugh ! " she cried hoarsely. " What 
else can one do ! Perfect swindlers — and what base 
swindlers at that ! Cheap Germans — Holstein-Gottorps ! 
Though, indeed, it's hardly safe to say who and what they 
are. A family that counts a creature like Catherine the 
Great in its ancestry — you understand ! " 

"You are only upsetting yourself," said Peter Ivano- 
vitch, patiently but in a firm tone. This admonition 
had its usual effect on the Egeria. She dropped her 
thick, discoloured eyelids and changed her position on 
the sofa. All her angular and lifeless movements seemed 
completely automatic now that her eyes were closed. 
Presently she opened them very full. Peter Ivanovitch 
drank tea steadily, without haste. 

" Well, I declare ! " She addressed Razumov 
directly. " The people who have seen you on your way 
here are right. You are very reserved. You haven't 
said twenty words altogether since you came in. You 
let nothing of your thoughts be seen in your face either." 

" 1 have been listening, Madame," said Razumov, 
using French for the first time, hesitatingly, not being 
certain of his accent. But it seemed to produce an ex- 
cellent impression. Madame de S looked meaningly 

into Peter Ivanovitch's spectacles, as if to convey her 
conviction of this young man's merit. She even nodded 
the least bit in his direction, and Razumov heard her 
murmur under her breath the words, " Later on in the 
diplomatic service," which could not but refer to the 
favourable impression he had made. The fantastic 
absurdity of it revolted him because it seemed to out- 
rage his ruined hopes with the vision of a mock-career. 
Peter Ivanovitch, impassive as though he were deaf, 



drank some more tea. Razumov felt that he must say 

" Yes," he began deliberately, as if uttering a meditated 
opinion. " Clearly. Even in planning a purely military 
revolution the temper of the people should be taken into 

" You have understood me perfectly. The discon- 
tent should be spiritualized. That is what the ordinary 
heads of revolutionary committees will not understand. 
They aren't capable of it. For instance, Mordatiev was 
in Geneva last month. Peter Ivanovitch brought him 
here. You know Mordatiev ? Well, yes — you have 
heard of him. They call him an eagle — a hero ! He 
has never done half as much as you have. Never 
attempted — not half. ..." 

Madame de S agitated herself angularly on the 


" We, of course, talked to him. And do you know 
what he said to me ? * What have we to do with Balkan 
intrigues ? We must simply extirpate the scoundrels.' 
Extirpate is all very well — but what then ? The 
imbecile ! I screamed at him, ' But you must 
spiritualize — don't you understand ? — spiritualize the 
discontent' ..." 

She felt nervously in her pocket for a handkerchief; 
she pressed it to her lips. 

" Spiritualize ? " said Razumov interrogatively, watch- 
ing her heaving breast. The long ends of an old black 
lace scarf she wore over her head slipped off her 
shoulders and hung down on each side of her ghastly 
rosy cheeks. 

" An odious creature," she burst out again. 
" Imagine a man who takes five lumps of sugar in 
his tea. . . . Yes, I said spiritualize ! How else can 
you make discontent effective and universal ? " 


" Listen to this, young man." Peter Ivanovitch 
made himself heard solemnly. " Effective and 

Razumov looked at him suspiciously, 

" Some say hunger will do that," he remarked. 

"Yes, I know. Our people are starving in heaps. 
But you can't make famine universal. And it is not 
despair that we want to create. There is no moral 
support to be got out of that. It is indignation. . . ." 

Madame de S let her thin, extended arm sink on 

her knees. 

" I am not a Mordatiev," began Razumov. 

" Bien sur! " murmured Madame de S . 

" Though I too am ready to say extirpate, extirpate ! 
But in my ignorance of political work, perr^.it me to ask : 
A Balkan — well — intrigue, wouldn't that take a very 
long time ? " 

Peter Ivanovitch got up and moved off quietly, to 
stand with his face to the window. Razumov heard a 
door close ; he turned his head and perceived that the 
lady companion had scuttled out of the room. 

"In matters of politics I am a su£ernaturalist." 
Madame de S broke the silence harshly. 

Peter Ivanovitch moved away from the window and 
struck Razumov lightly on the shoulder. This was a 
signal for leaving, but at the same time he addressed 
Madame de S in a peculiar reminding tone — 

" Eleanor ! " 

Whatever it meant, she did not seem to hear him. 
She leaned back in the corner of the sofa like a wooden 
figure. The immovable peevishness of the face, framed 
in the limp, rusty lace, had a character of cruelty. 

" As to extirpating," she croaked at the attentive 
Razumov, " there is only one class in Russia which must 
be extirpated. Only one. And that class consists of 


only one family. You understand me? That one 
family must be extirpated." 

Her rigidity was frightful, like the rigor of a corpse 
galvanized into harsh speech and glittering stare by the 
force of murderous hate. The sight fascinated Razumqv 
— yet he felt more self-possessed than at any other time 
since he had entered this weirdly bare room. He was 
interested. But the great feminist by his side again 
uttered his appeal — 
" Eleanor ! " 

She disregarded it. Her carmine lips vaticinated with 
an extraordinary rapidity. The liberating spirit would 
use arms before which rivers would part like Jordan, and 
ramparts fall down like the walls of Jericho. The 
deliverance from bondage would be effected by plagues 
and by signs, by wonders and by war. The women . . . 


She ceased ; she had heard him at last. She pressed 
her hand to her forehead. 

" What is it ? Ah yes ! That girl — the sister of . . ." 

It was Miss Haldin that she meant. That young 
girl and her mother had been leading a very retired life. 
They were provincial ladies — were they not ? The 
mother had been very beautiful — traces were left yet. 
Peter Ivanovitch, when he called there for the first time, 
was greatly struck. . . . But the cold way they received 
him was really surprising. 

" He is one of our national glories," Madame de S 

cried out, with sudden vehemence. " All the world listens 
to him." 

" I don't know these ladies," said Razumov loudly 
rising from his chair. 

" What are you saying, Kirylo Sidorovitch ? I 
understand that she was talking to you here, in the 
garden, the other day." 


" Yes, in the garden," said Razumov gloomily. 
Then, with an effort, " She made herself known to 


" And then ran away from us all," Madame de S 

continued, with ghastly vivacity. " After coming to the 
very door ! What a peculiar proceeding ! Well, I have 
been a shy little provincial girl at one time. Yes, Razu- 
mov" (she fell into this familiarity intentionally, with 
an appalling grimace of graciousness. Razumov gave a 
perceptible start), " yes, that's my origin. A simple 
provincial family." 

" You are a marvel," Peter Ivanovitch uttered in his 
deepest voice. 

But it was to Razumov that she gave her death's- 
head smile. Her tone was quite imperious. 

" You must bring the wild young thing here. She 
is wanted. I reckon upon your success — mind ! " 

" She is not a wild young thing," muttered Razu- 
mov, in a surly voice. 

" Well, then — that's all the same. She may be one 
of these young conceited democrats. Do you know 
what I think ? I think she is very much like you 
in character. There is a smouldering fire of scorn 
in you. You are darkly self-sufficient, but I can see 
your very soul." 

Her shiny eyes had a dry, intense stare, which, 
missing Razumov, gave him an absurd notion that 
she was looking at something which was visible to 
her behind him. He cursed himself for an impression- 
able fool, and asked with forced calmness — 

" What is it you see ? Anything resembling 

She moved her rigidly set face from left to right, 

" Some sort of phantom in my image ? " pursued 


Razumov slowly. " For, I suppose, a soul when it is 
seen is just that. A vain thing. There are phantoms 
of the living as well as of the dead." 

The tenseness of Madame de S 's stare had 

relaxed, and now she looked at Razumov in a silence 
that became disconcerting. 

" I m.yself have had an experience," he stammered 
out, as if compelled. " I've seen a phantom once." 

The unnaturally red lips moved to frame a question 

" Of a dead person ? " 
" No. Living." 
" A friend ? " 
" No." 

" An enemy ? " 
" I hated him." 

" Ah ! It was not a woman, then ? " 
" A woman ! " repeated Razumov, his eyes look- 
ing straight into the eyes of Madame de S . " Why 

should it have been a woman ? And why this con- 
clusion ? Why should I not have been able to hate a 
woman ? " 

As a matter of fact, the idea of hating a woman was 

new to him. At that moment he hated Madame de S . 

But it was not exactly hate. It was more like the 
abhorrence that may be caused by a wooden or plaster 
figure of a repulsive kind. She moved no more than 
if she were such a figure ; even her eyes, whose unwink- 
ing stare plunged into his own, though shining, were 
lifeless, as though they were as artificial as her teeth. 
For the first time Razumov became aware of a faint 
perfume, but faint as it was it nauseated him exceed- 
ingly. Again Peter Ivanovitch tapped him slightly on 
the shoulder. Thereupon he bowed, and was about to 
turn away when he received the unexpected favour of a 


bony, inanimate hand extended to him, with the two 
words in hoarse French — ■ 

'' Au revoir ! " 

He bowed over the skeleton hand and left the 
room, escorted by the great man, who made him go 
out first. The voice from the sofa cried after them — 

" You remain here, Pierre." 

" Certainly, ma chere amie." 

But he left the room with Razumov, shutting the 
door behind him. The landing was prolonged into a 
bare corridor, right and left, desolate perspectives of 
white and gold decoration without a strip of carpet. 
The very light, pouring through a large window at the 
end, seemed dusty ; and a solitary speck reposing on the 
balustrade of white marble — the silk top-hat of the great 
feminist — asserted itself extremely, black and glossy in 
all that crude whiteness. 

Peter Ivanovitch escorted the visitor without opening 
his lips. Even when they had reached the head of the 
stairs Peter Ivanovitch did not break the silence. Razu- 
mov's impulse to continue down the flight and out of 
the house without as much as a nod abandoned him 
suddenly. He stopped on the first step and leaned his 
back against the wall. Below him the great hall with its 
chequered floor of black and white seemed absurdly large 
and like some public place where a great power of reson- 
ance awaits the provocation of footfalls and voices. As 
if afraid of awakening the loud echoes of that empty 
house, Razumov adopted a low tone. 

" I really have no mind to turn into a dilettante 

Peter Ivanovitch shook his head slightly, very 

" Or spend my time in spiritual ecstasies or sublime 
meditations upon the gospel of feminism," continued 


Razumov. " I made my way here for my share of 
action — action, most respected Peter Ivanovitch ! It 
was not the great European writer who attracted me, 
here, to this odious town of liberty. It was somebody 
much greater. It was the idea of the chief which 
attracted me. There are starving young men in Russia 
who believe in you so much that it seems the only thing 
that keeps them alive in their misery. Think of that, 
Peter Ivanovitch ! No ! But only think of that ! " 

The great man, thus entreated, perfectly motionless 
and silent, was the very image of patient, placid 

" Of course I don't speak of the people. They are 
brutes," added Razumov, in the same subdued but 
forcible tone. At this, a protesting murmur issued from 
the " heroic fugitive's " beard. A murmur of authority. 

" Say — children." 

" No ! Brutes ! " Razumov insisted bluntly. 

" But they are sound, they are innocent," the great 
man pleaded in a whisper. 

" As far as that goes, a brute is sound enough." 
Razumov raised his voice at last. " And you can't 
deny the natural innocence of a brute. But what's the 
use of disputing about names? You just try to give 
these children the power and stature of men and see 
what they will be like. You just give it to them and 
see. . . . But never mind. I tell you, Peter Ivanovitch, 
that half a dozen young men do not come together now- 
adays in a shabby student's room without your name 
being whispered, not as a leader of thought, but as a 
centre of revolutionary energies — the centre of action. 
What else has drawn me near you, do you think ? It is 
not what all the world knows of you, surely. It's pre- 
cisely what the world at large does not know. I was 
irresistibly drawn — let us say impelled, yes, impelled ; or. 


rather, compelled, driven — driven," repeated Razumov 
loudly, and ceased, as if startled by the hollow rever- 
beration of the word " driven " along two bare corridors 
and in the great empty hall. 

Peter Ivanovitch did not seem startled in the least. 
The young man could not control a dry, uneasy laugh. 
The great revolutionist remained unmoved with an effect 
of commonplace, homely superiority. 

"Curse him," said Razumov to himself, "he is wait- 
ing behind his spectacles for me to giv^e myself away." 
Then aloud, with a satanic enjoyment of the scorn prompt- 
ing him to play with the greatness of the great man — 

" Ah, Peter Ivanovitch, if you only knew the force 
which drew — no, which drove me towards you ! The 
irresistible force." 

He did not feel any desire to laugh now. This time 
Peter Ivanovitch moved his head sideways, knowingly, 
as much as to say, " Don't I ? " This expressive move- 
ment was almost imperceptible. Razumov went on in 
secret derision — 

" All these days you have been trying to read me, 
Peter Ivanovitch. That is natural. I have perceived it 
and I have been frank. Perhaps you may think I have 
not been very expansive ? But with a man like you it 
was not needed ; it would have looked like an impertin- 
ence, perhaps. And besides, we Russians are prone to 
talk too much as a rule. I have always felt that. And 
yet, as a nation, we are dumb. I assure you that I am 
not likely to talk to you so much again — ha ! ha ! " 

Razumov, still keeping on the lower step, came a 
little nearer to the great man. 

" You have been condescending enough. I quite 

understood it was to lead me on. You must render me 

the justice that I have not tried to please. I have been 

impelled, compelled, or rather sent — let us say sent — 



towards you for a work that no one but myself can do. 
You would call it a harmless delusion : a ridiculous de- 
lusion at which you don't even sm.ile. It is absurd of 
me to talk like this, yet some day you shall remember 
these words, I hope. Enough of this. Here I stand 
before you — confessed ! But one thing more I must 
add to complete it : a mere blind tool I can never 
consent to be." 

Whatever acknowledgment Razumov was prepared 
for, he was not prepared to have both his hands seized 
in the great man's grasp. The swiftness of the move- 
ment was aggressive enough to startle. The burly 
feminist could not have been quicker had his purpose 
been to jerk Razumov treacherously up on the landing 
and bundle him behind one of the numerous closed 
doors near by. This idea actually occurred to Razumov ; 
his hands being released after a darkly eloquent squeeze, 
he smiled, with a beating heart, straight at the beard 
ajid the spectacles hiding that impenetrable man. 

He thought to himself (it stands confessed in his 
handwriting), " I won't move from here till he either 
speaks or turns away. This is a duel." Many seconds 
passed without a sign or sound. 

" Yes, yes," the great man said hurriedly, in subdued 
tones, as if the whole thing had been a stolen, breathless 
interview. " Exactly. Come to see us here in a few 
days. This must be gone into deeply — deeply, between 
you and me. Quite to the bottom. To the . . . And, 
\ by the by, you must bring along Natalia Victorovna — 
you know, the Haldin girl . . ." 

" Am I to take this as my first instruction from 
you ? " inquired Razumov stiffly. 

Peter Ivanovitch seemed perplexed by this new 

" Ah ! h'm ! You are naturally the proper person 


— la perso7ine ifidiqu^e. Every one shall be wanted 
presently. Every one," 

He bent down from the landing over Razumov, who 
had lowered his eyes. 

" The moment of action approaches," he murmured. 

Razumov did not look up. He did not move till he 
heard the door of the drawing-room close behind the 
greatest of feminists returning to his painted Egeria. 
Then he walked down slowly into the hall. The door 
stood open, and the shadow of the house was lying 
aslant over the greatest part of the terrace. While 
crossing it slowly, he lifted his hat and wiped his damp 
forehead, expelling his breath with force to get rid of the 
last vestiges of the air he had been breathing inside. 
He looked at the palms of his hands, and rubbed them 
gently against his thighs. 

He felt, bizarre as it may seem, as though another 
self, an independent sharer of his mind, had been able to 
view his whole person very distinctly indeed. " This is 
curious," he thought. After a while he formulated his 
opinion of it in the mental ejaculation : " Beastly ! " This 
diso-ust vanished before a marked uneasiness. " This 
is an effect of nervous exhaustion," he reflected with 
weary sagacity. " How am I to go on day after day if 
I have no more power of resistance — moral resistance ? " 

He followed the path at the foot of the terrace. 
" Moral resistance, moral resistance ; " he kept on re- 
peating these words mentally. Moral endurance. Yes, 
that was the necessity of the situation. An immense 
longing to make his way out of these grounds and to 
the other end of the town, of throwing himself on his 
bed and going to sleep for hours, swept everything clean 
out of his mind for a moment. " Is it possible that I 
am but a weak creature after all ? " he asked himself, in 
sudden alarm. " Eh ! What's that ? " 


He gave a start as if awakened from a dream. He 
even swayed a little before recovering himself. 

" Ah ! You stole away from us quietly to walk 
about here," he said. 

The lady companion stood before him, but how she 
came there he had not the slightest idea. Her folded 
arms were closely cherishing the cat. 

" I have been unconscious as I walked, it's a positive 
fact," said Razumov to himself in wonder. He raised 
his hat with marked civility. 

The sallow woman blushed duskily. She had her 
invariably scared expression, as if somebody had just 
disclosed to her some terrible news. But she held her 
ground, Razumov noticed, without timidity. " She is 
incredibly shabby," he thought In the sunlight her 
black costume looked greenish, with here and there 
threadbare patches where the stuff seemed decomposed 
by age into a velvety, black, furry state. Her very hair 
and eyebrows looked shabby. Razumov wondered 
whether she were sixty years old. Her figure, though, 
was young enough. He observed that she did not 
appear starved, but rather as if she had been fed on 
unwholesome scraps and leavings of plates. 

Razumov smiled amiably and moved out of her way. 
She turned her head to keep her scared eyes on him. 

" I know what you have been told in there," she 
affirmed, without preliminaries. Her tone, in contrast 
with her manner, had an unexpectedly assured character 
which put Razumov at his ease. 

" Do you ? You must have heard all sorts of talk 
on many occasions in there." 

She varied her phrase, with the same incongruous 
effect of positiveness. 

" I know to a certainty what you have been told 
to do." 


" Really ? " Razumov shrugged his shoulders a 
little. He was about to pass on with a bow, when a 
sudden thought struck him. "Yes. To be sure! In 
your confidential position you are aware of many things," 
he murmured, looking at the cat. 

That animal got a momentary convulsive hug from 
the lady companion. 

" Everything was disclosed to me a long time ago," 
she said. 

" Everything," Razumov repeated absently. 

" Peter Ivanovitch is an awful despot," she jerked 

Razumov went on studying the stripes on the grey 
fur of the cat. 

" An iron will is an integral part of such a tempera- 
ment. How else could he be a leader ? And I think 
that you are mistaken in " 

" There ! " she cried. " You tell me that I am mis- 
taken. But I tell you all the same that he cares for no 
one." She jerked her head up. " Don't you bring 
that girl here. That's what you have been told to 
do — to bring that girl here. Listen to me ; you had 
better tie a stone round her neck and throw her into the 

Razumov had a sensation of chill and gloom, as if a 
heavy cloud had passed over the sun. 

" The girl ? " he said. " What have I to do with 
her ? " 

" But you have been told to bring Nathalie Haldin 
here. Am I not right? Of course I am right. I was 
not in the room, but I know. I know Peter Ivanovitch 
sufficiently well. He is a great man. Great men are 
horrible. Well, that's it. Have nothing to do with her. 
That's the best you can do, unless you want her to be- 
come like me — disillusioned ! Disillusioned ! " 


" Like you," repeated Razumov, glaring at her face, 
as devoid of all comeliness of feature and complexion as 
the most miserable beggar is of money. He smiled, still 
feeling chilly : a peculiar sensation which annoyed him. 
" Disillusioned as to Peter Ivanovitch ! Is that all you 
have lost ? " 

She declared, looking frightened, but with immense 
conviction, " Peter Ivanovitch stands for everything." 
Then she added, in another tone, " Keep the girl away 
from this house." 

" And are you absolutely inciting me to disobey 
Peter Ivanovitch just because — because you are disillu- 
sioned ? " 

She began to blink. 

" Directly I saw you for the first time I was com- 
forted. You took your hat off to me. You looked as if 
one could trust you. Oh ! " 

She shrank before Razumov's savage snarl of, " I 
have heard something like this before." 

She was so confounded that she could do nothing 
but blink for a long time. 

"It was your humane manner," she explained plain- 
tively. " I have been starving for, I won't say kindness, 
but just for a little civility, for I don't know how long. 
And now you are angry . . ." 

" But no, on the contrary," he protested. " I am very 
glad you trust me. It's possible that later on I may . . ." 

" Yes, if you were to get ill," she interrupted eagerly, 
" or meet some bitter trouble, you would find I am not a 
useless fool. You have only to let me know. I will 
come to you. I will indeed. And I will stick to you. 
Misery and I are old acquaintances — but this life here is 
worse than starving." 

She paused anxiouslj'-, then in a voice for the first 
time sounding really timid, she added — 


" Or if you were engaged in some dangerous work. 
Sometimes a humble companion — I would not want to 
know anything. I would follow you with joy. I could 
carry out orders. I have the courage." 

Razumov looked attentively at the scared round eyes, 
at the withered, sallow, round cheeks. They were 
quivering about the corners of the mouth. 

" She wants to escape from here," he thought. 

" Suppose I were to tell you that I am engaged in 
dangerous work ? " he uttered slowly. 

She pressed the cat to her threadbare bosom with a 
breathless exclamation. " Ah ! " Then not much above 
a whisper : " Under Peter Ivanovitch ? " 

" No, not under Peter Ivanovitch." 

He read admiration in her eyes, and made an effort 
to smile. 

" Then — alone ? " 

He held up his closed hand with the index raised. 

" Like this finger," he said. 

She was trembling slightly. But it occurred to 
Razumov that they might have been observed from the 
house, and he became anxious to be gone. She blinked, 
raising up to him her puckered face, and seemed to beg 
mutely to be told something more, to be given a word of 
encouragement for her starving, grotesque, and pathetic 

" Can we be seen from the house ? " asked Razumov 

She answered, without showing the slightest surprise 
at the question — 

" No, we can't, on account of this end of the stables." 
And she added, with an acuteness which surprised 
Razumov, " But anybody looking out of an upstairs 
window would know that you have not passed through 
the gates yet." 


" Who's likely to spy out of the window ? " queried 
Razumov. " Peter Ivanovitch ? " 

She nodded. 

" W^hy should he trouble his head ? " 

" He expects somebody this afternoon." 

" You know the person ? " 

" There's more than one." 

She had lowered her eyelids. Razumov looked at 
her curiously. 

" Of course. You hear everything they say." 

She murmured without any animosity — • 

" So do the tables and chairs." 

He understood that the bitterness accumulated in 
the heart of that helpless creature had got into her veins, 
and, like some subtle poison, had decomposed her 
fidelity to that hateful pair. It was a great piece of 
luck for him, he reflected ; because women are seldom 
venal after the manner of men, who can be bought for 
material considerations. She would be a good ally, 
though it was not likely that she was allowed to hear 
as much as the tables and chairs of the Chateau Borel. 
That could not be expected. But still . . . And, at 
any rate, she could be made to talk. 

When she looked up her eyes met the fixed stare of 
Razumov, who began to speak at once. 

" WeH, well, dear . . . but upon my word, I haven't the 
pleasure of knowing your name yet. Isn't it strange ? " 

For the first time she made a movement of the 

" Is it strange? No one is told my name. No one 
cares. No one talks to me, no one writes to me. My 
parents don't even know if I'm aiive. I have no use for 
a name, and I have almost forgotten it myself." 

Razumov murmured gravely, " Yes, but still . . ." 

She went on much slower, with indifference — 


"You may call me Tekla, then. My poor Andrei 
called me so. I was devoted to him. He lived in 
wretchedness and suffering, and died in misery. That is 
the lot of all us Russians, nameless Russians, There is 
nothing else for us, and no hope anywhere, unless . . ." 

" Unless what ? " 

" Unless all these people with names are done away 
with," she finished, blinking and^ursing up her lips. 

" it will be easier to call you Tekla, as you direct 
me," said Razumov, " if you consent to call me Kirylo, 
when we are talking like this — quietly — only you 
and me." 

And he said to himself, " Here's a being who must 
be terribly afraid of the world, else she would have run 
away from this situation before." Then he reflected that 
the mere fact of leaving the great man abruptly would 
make her a suspect. She could expect no support or 
countenance from anyone. This revolutionist was not 
fit for an independent existence. 

She moved with him a few steps, blinking and nursing 

the cat with a small balancing movement of her arms. 


" Yes — only you and I. That's how I was with my 
poor Andrei, only he was dying, killed by these official 
brutes — while you ! You are strong. You kill the 
monsters. You have done a great deed. Peter 
Ivanovitch himself must consider you. Well — don't 
forget me — especially if you are going back to work in 
Russia. I could follow you, carrying anything that was 
wanted — at a distance, you know. Or I could watch 
for hours at the corner of a street if necessary, — in wet 
or snow — yes, I could — all day long. Or I could write 
for you dangerous documents, lists of names or instruc- 
tions, so that in case of mischance the handwriting could 
not compromise you. And you need not be afraid if 
they were to catch mc. I would know how to keep 


dumb. We women are not so easily daunted by pain. 
I heard Peter Ivanovitch say it is our blunt nerves or 
something. We can stand it better. And it's true ; I 
would just as soon bite my tongue out and throw it at 
them as not. What's the good of speech to me ? Who 
would ever want to hear what I could say ? Ever since 
I closed the eyes of my poor Andrei I haven't met a 
man who seemed to care for the sound of my voice. 
I should never have spoken to you if the very first time 
you appeared here you had not taken notice of me so 
nicely. I could not help speaking of you to that 
charming dear girl. Oh, the sweet creature ! And 
strong ! One can see that at once. If you have a heart 
don't let her set her foot in here. Good-bye ! " 

Razumov caught her by the arm. Her emotion at 
being thus seized manifested itself by a short struggle, 
after which she stood still, not looking at him. 

" But you can tell me," he spoke in her ear, " why 
they — these people in that house there — are so anxious 
to get hold of her ? " 

She freed herself to turn upon him, as if made angry 
by the question. 

" Don't you understand that Peter Ivanovitch must 
direct, inspire, influence? It is the breath of his life. 
There can never be too many disciples. He can't bear 
thinking of anyone escaping him. And a woman, too ! 
There is nothing to be done without women, he says. 
He has written it. He " 

The young man was staring at her passion when she 
broke off suddenly and ran away behind the stable. 


Razumov, thus left to himself, took the direction of 
the gate. But on this day of many conversations, he 


discovered that very probably he could not leave the 
grounds without having to hold another one. 

Stepping in view from beyond the lodge appeared 
the expected visitors of Peter Ivanovitch : a small 
party composed of two men and a woman. They 
noticed him too, immediately, and stopped short as if to 
consult. But in a moment the woman, moving aside, 
motioned with her arm to the two men, who, leaving 
the drive at once, struck across the large neglected lawn, 
or rather grass-plot, and made directly for the house. 
The woman remained on the path waiting for 
Razumov's approach. She had recognized him. He, 
too, had recognized her at the first glance. He had 
been made known to her at Zurich, where he had broken 
his journey while on his way from Dresden. They had 
been much together for the three days of his stay. 

She was wearing the very same costume in which he 
had seen her first. A blouse of crimson silk made her 
noticeable at a distance. With that she wore a short 
brown skirt and a leather belt. Her complexion was 
the colour of coffee and milk, but very clear ; her eyes 
black and glittering, her figure erect. A lot of thick 
hair, nearly white, was done up loosely under a dusty 
Tyrolese hat of dark cloth, which seemed to have lost 
some of its trimmings. 

The expression of her face was grave, intent ; so 
grave that Razumov, after approaching her close, felt 
obliged to smile. She greeted him with a manly hand- 

"What! Are you going away?" she exclaimed. 
" How is that, Razumov ? " 

" I am going away because I haven't been asked to 
stay," Razumov answered, returning the pressure of her 
hand with much less force than she had put into it. 

She jerked her head sideways like one who under- 


stands. Meantime Razumov's eyes had strayed after the 
two men. They were crossing the grass-plot obliquely, 
without haste. The shorter of the two was buttoned up 
in a narrow overcoat of some thin grey material, which 
came nearly to his heels. His companion, much taller 
and broader, wore a short, close-fitting jacket and tight 
trousers tucked into shabby top-boots. 

The woman, who had sent them out of Razumov's 
way apparently, spoke in a businesslike voice. 

" I had to come rushing from Zurich on purpose to 
meet the train and take these two along here to see 
Peter Ivanovitch. I've just managed it." 

" Ah ! indeed," Razumov said perfunctorily, and 
very vexed at her staying behind to talk to him. *' From 
Zurich — yes, of course. And these two, they come 
from . . ." 

She interrupted, without emphasis — 

" From quite another direction. From a distance, 
too. A considerable distance." 

Razumov shrugged his shoulders. The two men 
from a distance, after having reached the wall of the 
terrace, disappeared suddenly at its foot as if the earth 
had opened to swallow them up. 

"Oh, well, they have just come from 'America." 
The woman in the crimson blouse shrugged her shoulders 
too a little before making that statement. " The time 
is drawing near," she interjected, as if speaking to herself. 
" I did not tell them who you were. Yakovlitch would 
have wanted to embrace you." 

" Is that he with the wisp of hair hanging from his 
chin, in the long coat ? " 

" You've guessed aright. That's Yakovlitch." 

" And they could not find their way here from the 
station without you coming on purpose from Zurich 
to show it to them ? Verily, without women we can 


do nothing. So it stands written, and apparently so 
it is." 

He was conscious of an immense lassitude under his 
effort to be sarcastic. And he could see that she had 
detected it with those steady, brilliant black eyes. 

" What is the matter with you ? " 

** I don't know. Nothing. I've had a devil of a day." 

She waited, with her black eyes fixed on his face. 
Then — 

" What of that ? You men are so impressionable 
and self-conscious. One day is like another, hard, hard 
— and there's an end of it, till the great day comes. I 
came over for a very good reason. They wrote to warn 
Peter Ivanovitch of their arrival. But where from ? 
Only from Cherbourg on a bit of ship's notepaper. 
Anybody could have done that. Yakovlitch has lived 
for years and years in America. I am the only one at 
hand who had known him well in the old days. I knew 
him very well indeed. So Peter Ivanovitch telegraphed, 
asking me to come. It's natural enough, is it not?" 

" You came to vouch for his identity ? " inquired 

"Yes. Something of the kind. Fifteen years of a 
life like his make changes in a man. Lonely, like a 
crow in a strange country. When I think of Yakovlitch 
before he went to America " 

The softness of the low tone caused Razumov to 
glance at her sideways. She sighed ; her black eyes 
were looking away ; she had plunged the fingers of her 
right hand deep into the mass of nearly white hair, and 
stirred them there absently. When she withdrew her 
hand the little hat perched on the top of her head 
remained slightly tilted, with a queer inquisitive effect, 
contrasting strongly with the reminiscent murmur that 
escaped her. 


" We were not in our first youth even then. But a 
man is a child always." 

Razumov thought suddenly, " They have been 
living together." Then aloud — 

" Why didn't you follow him to America ? " he asked 

She looked up at him with a perturbed air. 

" Don't you remember what was going on fifteen 
years ago ? It was a time of activity. The Revolution 
has its history by this time. You are in it and yet you 
don't seem to know it. Yakovlitch went away then on 
a mission ; I went back to Russia. It had to be so. 
Afterwards there was nothing for him to come back to." 

" Ah ! indeed," muttered Razumov, with affected 
surprise. " Nothing ! " 

" What are you trying to insinuate ? " she exclaimed 
quickly. " Well, and what then if he did get discouraged 
a little . . ." 

" He looks like a Yankee, with that goatee hanging 
from his chin. A regular Uncle Sam," growled Razu- 
mov. " Well, and you ? You who went to Russia ? 
You did not get discouraged." 

" Never mind. Yakovlitch is a man who cannot be 
doubted. He, at any rate, is the right sort." 

Her black, penetrating gaze remained fixed upon 
Razumov while she spoke, and for a moment afterwards. 

" Pardon me," Razumov inquired coldly, " but does 
it mean that you, for instance, think that I am not the 
right sort ? " 

She made no protest, gave no sign of having heard 
the question ; she continued looking at him in a manner 
which he judged not to be absolutely unfriendly. In 
Zurich when he passed through she had taken him under 
her charge, in a way, and was with him from morning 
till night during his stay of two days. She took him 


round to see several people. At first she talked to 
him a great deal and rather unreservedly, but always 
avoiding all reference to herself; towards the middle of 
the second day she fell silent, attending him zealously as 
before, and even seeing him off at the railway station, 
where she pressed his hand firmly through the lowered 
carriage window, and, stepping back without a word, 
waited till the train moved. He had noticed that she 
was treated with quiet regard. He knew nothing of her 
parentage, nothing of her private history or political 
record ; he judged her from his own private point of 
view, as being a distinct danger in his path. "Judged " is 
not perhaps the right word. It was more of a feeling, 
the summing up of slight impressions aided by the dis- 
covery that he could not despise her as he despised all 
the others. He had not expected to see her again so 

No, decidedly ; her expression was not unfriendly. 
Yet he perceived an acceleration in the beat of his heart. 
The conversation could not be abandoned at that point. 
He went on in accents of scrupulous inquiry — 

" Is it perhaps because I don't seem to accept blindly 
every development of the general doctrine — such for 
instance as the feminism of our great Peter Ivanovitch ? 
If that is what makes me suspect, then I can only say I 
would scorn to be a slave even to an idea." 

She had been looking at him all the time, not as 
a listener looks at one, but as if the words he chose to 
say were only of secondary interest. When he finished 
she slipped her hand, by a sudden and decided move- 
ment, under his arm and impelled him gently towards 
the gate of the grounds. He felt her firmness and 
obeyed the impulsion at once, just as the other two men 
had, a moment before, obeyed unquestioningly the wave 
of her hand. 


They made a few steps like this. 

" No, Razumov, your ideas are probably all right," 
she said. " You may be valuable — very valuable. 
What's the matter with you is that you don't like us." 

She released him. He met her with a frosty smile. 

" Am I expected then to have love as well as con- 
victions ? " 

She shrugged her shoulders. 

" You know very well what I mean. People have 
been thinking you not quite whole-hearted. I have 
heard that opinion from one side and another. But I 
have understood you at the end of the first day . . ." 

Razumov interrupted her, speaking steadily. 

" I assure you that your perspicacity is at fault here." 

" What phrases he uses ! " she exclaimed parentheti- 
cally. " Ah ! Kirylo Sidorovitch, you like other men 
are fastidious, full of self-love and afraid of trifles. 
Moreover, you had no training. What you want is to 
be taken in hand by some woman. I am sorry I am 
not staying here a few days. I am going back to Zurich 
to-morrow, and shall take Yakovlitch with me most 

This information relieved Razumov. 

" I am sorry too," he said. " But, all the same, I don't 
think you understand me." 

He breathed more freely ; she did not protest, but 
asked, " And how did you get on with Peter Ivano- 
vitch? You have seen a good deal of each other. 
How is it between you two ? " 

Not knowing what answer to make, the young man 
inclined his head slowly. 

Her lips had been parted in expectation. She 
pressed them together, and seemed to reflect. 

« That's all right." 

This had a sound of finality, but she did not leave 


him. It was impossible to guess what she had in her 
mind. Razumov muttered — 

" It is not of me that you should have asked that 
question. In a moment you shall see Peter Ivanovitch 
himself, and the subject will come up naturally. He 
will be curious to know what has delayed you so long 
in this garden." 

" No doubt Peter Ivanovitch will have something to 
say to me. Several things. He may even speak of you 
— question me. Peter Ivanovitch is inclined to trust me 

" Question you ? That's very likely." 

She smiled, half serious. 

" Well — and what shall I say to him ? " 

" I don't know. You may tell him of your dis- 

" What's that ? " 

" Why — my lack of love for . . ." 

" Oh ! That's between ourselves," she interrupted, 
it was hard to say whether in jest or earnest. 

" I see that you want to tell Peter Ivanovitch some- 
thing in my favour," said Razumov, with grim playful- 
ness. " Well, then, you can tell him that I am very 
much in earnest about my mission. I mean to 

" You have been given a mission ! " she exclaimed 

" It amounts to that. I have been told to bring 
about a certain event." 

She looked at him searchingly. 

" A mission," she repeated, very grave and interested 
all at once. " What sort of mission ? " 

" Something in the nature of propaganda work." 

" Ah 1 Far away from here ? " 

" No. Not very far," said Razumov, restraining a 


sudden desire to laugh, though he did not feel joyous 
in the least. 

"So!" she said thoughtfully. "Well, I am not 
asking questions. It's sufficient that Peter Ivanovitch 
should know what each of us is doing. Everything is 
bound to come right in the end." 

" You think so ? " 

" I don't think, young man. I just simply believe it." 

" And is it to Peter Ivanovitch that you owe that 

She did not answer the question, and they stood 
idle, silent, as if reluctant to part with each other. 

" That's just like a man," she murmured at last. 
" As if it were possible to tell how a belief comes to one." 
Her thin Mephistophelian eyebrows moved a little. 
" Truly there are millions of people in Russia who 
would envy the life of dogs in this country. It is a 
horror and a shame to confess this even between our- 
selves. One must believe for very pity. This can't 
go on. No ! It can't go on. For twenty years I have 
been coming and going, looking neither to the left nor 
to the right. . . . What are you smiling to yourself 
for ? You are only at the beginning. You have begun 
well, but you just wait till you have trodden every 
particle of yourself under your feet in your comings 
and goings. For that is what it comes to. You've 
got to trample down every particle of your own feelings ; 
for stop you cannot, you must not. I have been 
young, too — but perhaps you think that I am complain- 
ing—eh ? " 

" I don't think anything of the sort," protested 
Razumov indifferently, 

" I dare say you don't, you dear superior creature. 
You don't care." 

She plunged her fingers into the bunch of hair on 


the left side, and that brusque movement had the effect 
of setting the Tyrolese hat straight on her head. She 
frowned under it without animosity, in the manner of 
an investigator. Razumov averted his face carelessly, 

" You men are all alike. You mistake luck for 
merit. You do it in good faith too ! I would not be 
too hard on you. It's masculine nature. You men 
are ridiculously pitiful in your aptitude to cherish 
childish illusions down to the very grave. There are 
a lot of us who have been at work for fifteen years 
— I mean constantly — trying one way after another, 
underground and above ground, looking neither to 
the right nor to the left ! I can talk about it. I have 
been one of these that never rested. . . . There ! 
What's the use of talking. . . . Look at my grey hairs ! 
And here two babies come along — I mean you and 
Haldin — you come along and manage to strike a blow 
at the very first try." 

At the name of Haldin falling from the rapid and 
energetic lips of the woman revolutionist, Razumov had 
the usual brusque consciousness of the irrevocable. But 
in all the months which had passed over his head he 
had become hardened to the experience. The conscious- 
ness was no longer accompanied by the blank dismay 
and the blind anger of the early days. He had argued 
himself into new beliefs ; and he had made for himself 
a mental atmosphere of gloomy and .sardonic reverie, 
a sort of murky medium through which the event 
appeared like a featureless shadow having vaguely the 
shape of a man ; a shape extremely familiar, yet utterly 
inexpressive, except for its air of discreet waiting in the 
dusk. It was not alarming. 

"What was he like? " the woman revolutionist asked 

" What was he like ? " echoed Razumov, making a 


painful effort not to turn upon her savagely. But he 
relieved himself by laughing a little while he stole a 
glance at her out of the corners of his eyes. This 
reception of her inquiry disturbed her. 

" How like a woman," he went on. " What is the 
good of concerning yourself with his appearance ? 
Whatever it was, he is removed beyond all feminine 
influences now." 

A frown, making three folds at the root of her nose, 
accentuated the Mephistophelian slant of her eyebrows. 

" You suffer, Razumov," she suggested, in her low, 
confident voice. 

" What nonsense ! " Razumov faced the woman 
fairly. " But now I think of it, I am not sure that he 
is beyond the influence of one woman at least ; the one 

over there — Madame de S , you know. Formerly 

the dead were allowed to rest, but now it seems they 
are at the beck and call of a crazy old harridan. We 
revolutionists make wonderful discoveries. It is true 
that they are not exactly our own. We have nothing 
of our own. But couldn't the friend of Peter Ivanovitch 
satisfy your feminine curiosity? Couldn't she conjure 
him up for you ? " — he jested like a man in pain. 

Her concentrated frowning expression relaxed, and 
she said, a little wearily, " Let us hope she will make 
an effort and conjure up some tea for us. But that 
is by no means certain. I am tired, Razumov." 

" You tired ! What a confession ! W^ell, there has 
been tea up there. I had some. If you hurry on 
after Yakovlitch, instead of wasting your time with 
such an unsatisfactory sceptical person as myself, you 
may find the ghost of it — the cold ghost of it — still 
lingering in the temple. But as to you being tired I 
can hardly believe it. We are not supposed to be. 
We mustn't. We can't. The other day I read in 


some paper or other an alarmist article on the tireless 
activity of the revolutionary parties. It impresses the 
world. It's our prestige." 

" He flings out continually these flouts and sneers ; " 
the woman in the crimson blouse spoke as if appealing 
quietly to a third person, but her black eyes never left 
Razumov's face. " And what for, pray ? Simply be- 
cause some of his conventional notions are shocked, 
some of his petty masculine standards. You might 
think he was one of these nervous sensitives that come 
to a bad end. And yet," she went on, after a short, 
reflective pause and changing the mode of her address, 
" and yet I have just learned something which makes me 
think that you are a man of character, Kirylo Sidorovitch. 
Yes ! indeed — you are." 

The mysterious positiveness of this assertion startled 
Razumov. Their eyes met. He looked away and, 
through the bars of the rusty gate, stared at the 
clean, wide road shaded by the leafy trees. An 
electric tramcar, quite empty, ran along the avenue 
with a metallic rustle. It seemed to him he would 
have given anything to be sitting inside all alone. 
He was inexpressibly weary, weary in every fibre 
of his body, but he had a reason for nut being the 
first to break off the conversation. At any instant, 
in the visionary and criminal babble of revolutionists, 
some momentous words might fall on his ear; from 
her lips, from anybody's lips. As long as he managed 
to preserve a clear mind and to keep down his irrita- 
bility there was nothing to fear. The only condition 
of success and safety was indomitable will-power, he 
reminded himself. 

He longed to be on the other side of the bars, as 
though he were actually a prisoner within the grounds 
of this centre of revolutionary plots, of this house of 


' M 

folly, of blindness, of villainy and crime. Silently he 
indulged his wounded spirit in a feeling of immense 
moral and mental remoteness. He did not even smile 
when he heard her repeat the words — 

"Yes! A strong character." 

He continued to gaze through the bars like a moody 
prisoner, not thinking of escape, but merely pondering 
upon the faded memories of freedom. 

" If you don't look out," he mumbled, still looking 
away, " you shall certainly miss seeing as much as the 
mere ghost of that tea." 

She was not to be shaken off in such a way. As 
a matter of fact he had not expected to succeed. 

" Never mind, it will be no great loss. I mean the 
missing of her tea and only the ghost of it at that. 
As to the lady, you must understand that she has her 
positive uses. See that, Razumov." 

He turned his head at this imperative appeal and 
saw the woman revolutionist making the motions of 
counting money into the palm of her hand. 

" That's what it is. You see ? " 

Razumov uttered a slow " I see," and returned to 
his prisoner-like gazing upon the neat and shady road. 

" Material means must be obtained in some way, 
and this is easier than breaking into banks. More 
certain too. There ! I am joking . . . What is he 
muttering to himself now?" she cried under her breath. 

" My admiration of Peter Ivanovitch's devoted self- 
sacrifice, that's all. It's enough to make one sick." 

" Oh, you squeamish, masculine creature. Sick ! 
Makes him sick! And what do you know of the 
truth of it? There's no looking into the secrets of the 
heart. Peter Ivanovitch knew her years ago, in his 
worldly days, when he was a young officer in the 
Guards. It is not for us to judge an inspired person. 


That's where you men have an advantage. You are 
inspired sometimes both in thought and action. I 
have ahvays admitted that when you are inspired, when 
you manage to throw off your masculine cowardice and 
prudishness you are not to be equalled by us. Only, 
how seldom . . . Whereas the_ silliest woman can 
always be made of use. And why? Because we 
have passion, unappeasable passion ... I should like 
to know what he is smiling at ? " 

" I am not smiling," protested Razumov gloomily. 

" Well ! How is one to call it ? You made some 
sort of face. Yes, I know ! You men can love here 
and hate there and desire something or other — and you 
make a great to-do about it, and you call it passion ! 
Yes 1 While it lasts. But we women are in love with 
love, and with hate, with these very things I tell you, and 
with desire itself That's why we can't be bribed off so 
easily as you men. In life, you see, there is not much 
choice. You have either to rot or to burn. And there 
is not one of us, painted or unpainted, that would not 
rather burn than rot." 

She spoke with energy, but in a matter-of-fact tone. 
Razumov's attention had wandered away on a track of 
its own — outside the bars of the gate — but not out of 
earshot. He stuck his hands into the pockets of his 

" Rot or burn ! Powerfully stated. Painted or un- 
painted. Very vigorous. Painted or . . . Do tell me — 
she would be infernally jealous of him, wouldn't she ? " 

"Who? What? The Baroness? Eleanor Maxi- 
movna? Jealous of Peter Ivanovitch ? Heavens! Are 
these the questions the man's mind is running on ? Such 
a thing is not to be thought of" 

" Why ? Can't a wealthy old woman be jealous ? 
Or, are they all pure spirits together?" 


" But what put it into your head to ask such a 
question ? " she wondered. 

"Nothing. I just asked. Masculine frivolity, _J£_ 
you like." 

" I don't like^" she retorted at once. "It is not the 
time to be frivolous. What are you flinging your very 
heart against ? Or, perhaps, you are only playing 
a part." 

Razumov had felt that woman's observation of him 
like a physical contact, like a hand resting lightly on his 
shoulder. At that moment he received the mysterious 
impression of her having made up her mind for a closer 
grip. He stiffened himself inwardly to bear it without 
betraying himself. 

" Playing a part," he repeated, presenting to her an 
unmoved profile. " It must be done very badly since, 
you see through the assumption." . <♦<!*«<.''. 

She watched him, her forehead drawn into per- 
pendicular folds, the thin black eyebrows diverging 
upwards like the antennae of an insect. He added hardly 
audibly — 

" You are mistaken. I am doing it no more than 
the rest of us." 

" Who is doing it ? " she snapped out. 

" Who ? Everybody," he said impatiently. " You 
are a materialist, aren't you ? " 

" Eh ! My dear soul, I have outlived all that 

' IBut you must remember the definition of Cabanis : 
' Man is a digestive tube.' I imagine now . . ." 

" I spit on him." 

"What? On Cabanis? All right. But you can't 
ignore the importance of a good digestion. The joy of 
life — you know the joy of life ? — depends on a sound 
stomach, whereas a bad digestion inclines one to scepti- 




cism, breeds black fancies and thoughts of death. These 
are facts ascertained by physiologists. Well, I assure 
you that ever since I came over from Russia I have been 
stuffed with indigestible foreign concoctions of the most 
nauseating kind — pah ! " 

" You are joking," she murmured incredulously. He 
assented in a detached way. 

"Yes. It is all a joke. It's hardly worth while 
talking to a man like me. Yet for that very reason men 
have been known to take their own life." 

" On the contrary, I think it is worth while talking 
to you." 

He kept her in the corner of his eye. She seemed 
to be thinking out some scathing retort, but ended by 
only shrugging her shoulders slightly. 

"Shallow talk! I suppose one must pardon this 
weakness in you," she said, putting a special accent on 
the last word. There was something anxious in her 
indulgent conclusion. 

Razumov noted ihe slightest shades in this conver- 
sation, which he had not expected, for which he was not 
prepared. That was it. " I was not prepared," he said 
to himself. " It has taken me unawares." It seemed to 
him that if he only could allow himself to pant openly 
like a dog for a time this oppression would pass away. 
" I shall never be found prepared," he thought, with 
despair. He laughed a little, saying as lightly as he 
could — 

" Thanks. I don't ask for mercy." Then affecting 
a playful uneasiness, " But aren't you afraid Peter 
Ivanovitch might suspect us of plotting something 
unauthorized together by the gate here ? " 

" No, I am not afraid. You are quite safe from 
suspicions while you are with me, my dear young man." 
The humorous gleam in her black eyes went out. " Peter 


Ivanovitch trusts me," she went on, quite austerely. " He 
takes my advice. I am his right hand, as it were, in 
certain most important things. . . . That amuses you — 
what ? Do you think I am boasting ? " 

" God forbid. I was just only saying to myself that 
Peter Ivanovitch seems to have solved the woman question 
pretty completely." 

Even as he spoke he reproached himself for his words, 
for his tone. All day long he had been saying the wrong 
things. It was folly, worse than folly. It was weakness ; 
it was this disease of perversity overcoming his will. 
Was this the way to meet speeches which certainly 
contained the promise of future confidences from that 
woman who apparently had a great store of secret know- 
ledge and so much influence ? Why give her this 
puzzling impression ? But she did not seem inimical. 
There was no anger in her voice. It was strangely 

" One does not know what to think, Razumov. You 
must have bitten something bitter in your cradle." 

Razumov gave her a sidelong glance. 

" H'm ! Something bitter ? That's an explanation," 
he muttered. " Only it was much later. And don't you 
think, Sophia Antonovna, that you and I come from the 
same cradle? " 

The woman, whose name he had forced himself at 
last to pronounce (he had experienced a strong repug- 
nance in letting it pass his lips), the woman revolutionist 
murmured, after a pause — 

" You mean — Russia ? " 

He disdained even to nod. She seemed softened, 
her black eyes very still, as though she were pursuing the 
simile in her thoughts to all its tender associations. But 
suddenly she knitted her brows in a Mephistophelian 


" Yes. Perhaps no wonder, then. Yes. One h'es 
there lapped up in evils, watched over by beings that are 
worse than ogres, ghouls, and vampires. They must be 
driven away, destroyed utterly. In regard of that task 
nothing else matters if men and women are determined 
and faithful. That's how I came to feel in the end. 
The great thing is not to quarrel amongst ourselves 
about all sorts of conventional trifles. Remember that, 

Razumov was not listening. He had even lost the 
sense of being watched in a sort of heavy tranquillity. 
His uneasiness, his exasperation, his scorn were blunted 
at last by all these trying hours. It seemed to him that 
now they were blunted for ever. "I am a match for 
them all," he thought, with a conviction too firm to be 
exulting. The woman revolutionist had ceased speaking ; 
he was not looking at her ; there was no one passing 
along the road. He almost forgot that he was not alone. 
He heard her voice again, curt, businesslike, and yet 
betraying the hesitation which had been the real reason 
of her prolonged silence. 

" I say, Razumov ! " 

Razumov, whose face was turned away from her, made 
a grimace like a man who hears a false note. 

" Tell me : is it true that on the very morning of 
the deed you actually attended the lectures at the 
University ? " 

An appreciable fraction of a second elapsed before 
the real import of the question reached him, like a bullet 
which strikes some time after the flash of the fired shot. 
Luckily his disengaged hand was ready to grip a bar of 
the gate. He held it with a terrible force, but his 
presence of mind was gone. He could make only a sort 
of gurgling, grumpy sound. 

" Come, Kirylo Sidorovitch ! " she urged him. " I 


know you are not a boastful man. That one must say 
for you. You are a silent man. Too silent, perhaps. 
You are feeding on some bitterness of your own. You 
are not an enthusiast. You are, perhaps, all the stronger 
for that. But you might tell me. One would like to 
understand you a little more. I was so immensely struck 
. . . Have you really done it ? " 

He got his voice back. The shot had missed him. 
It had been fired at random, altogether, more like a 
signal for coming to close quarters. It was to be a plain 
struggle for self-preservation. And she was a dangerous 
adversary too. But he was ready for battle ; he was so 
ready that when he turned towards her not a muscle of 
his face moved. 

" Certainly," he said, without animation, secretly strung 
up but perfectly sure of himself. " Lectures — certainly. 
But what makes you ask ? " 

It was she who was animated. 

" I had it in a letter, written by a young man in 
Petersburg ; one of us, of course. You were seen — you 
were observed with your notebook, impassible, taking 
notes . . ." 

He enveloped her with his £xed stare. 

" What of that ? " 

" I call such coolness superb — that's all. It is a 
proof of uncommon strength of character. The young 
man writes that nobody could have guessed from your 
face and manner the part you had played only some two 
hours before — the great, momentous, glorious part . . ." 

" Oh no. Nobody could have guessed," assented 
Razumov gravely, " because, don't you see, nobody at 
that time . . ." 

" Yes, yes. But all the same you are a man of 
exceptional fortitude, it seems. You looked exactly as 
usual. It was remembered afterwards with wonder . . ." 


" It cost me no effort," Razumov declared, with the 
same staring gravity. 

" Then it's ahnost more wonderful still ! " she ex- 
claimed, and fell silent while Razumov asked himself 
whether he had not said there something utterly un- 
necessary — or even worse. 

She raised her head eagerly. 

" Your intention was to stay in Russia ? You had 
planned . . ." 

" No," interrupted Razumov without haste. " I had 
made no plans of any sort." 

"You just simply walked away?" she struck in. 

He bowed his head in slow assent. " Simply — yes." 
He had gradually released his hold on the bar of the 
gate, as though he had acquired the conviction that no 
random shot could knock him over now. And suddenly 
he was inspired to add, " The snow was coming down 
very thick, you know." 

She had a slight appreciative movement of the head, 
like an expert in such enterprises, very interested, capable 
of taking every point professionally. Razumov remem- 
bered something he had heard. 

" I turned into a narrow side street, you understand," 
he went on negligently, and paused as if it were not 
worth talking about. Then he remembered another 
detail and dropped it before her, like a disdainful dole to 
her curiosity. 

" I felt inclined to lie down and go to sleep there." 

She clicked her tongue at that symptom, very struck 
indeed. Then — 

" But the notebook ! The amazing notebook, man. 
You don't mean to say you had put it in your pocket 
beforehand ! " she cried. 

Razumov gave a start. It might haye_be©n a ^siga—,..^ 
of impatience.- 


" I went home. Straight home to my rooms," he 
said distinctly. 

" The coolness of the man ! You dared ? " 

" Why not ? I assure you I was perfectly calm. 
Ha ! Calmer than 1 am now perhaps." 

" I like you much better as you are now than when 
you indulge that bitter vein of yours, Razumov. And 
nobody in the house saw you return — eh ? That might 
have appeared queer." 

" No one," Razumov said firmly. " Dvornik, land- 
lady, girl, all out of the way. I went up like a shadow. 
It was a murky morning. The stairs were dark. I 
glided up hke a phantom. Fate ? Luck ? What do 
you think ? " 

'* I just see it ! " The eyes of the woman revolu- 
tionist snapped darkly. " Well — and then you con- 
sidered . . ." 

Razumov had it all ready in his head. 

" No. I looked at my watch, since you want to 
know. There was just time. I took that notebook, and 
ran down the stairs on tiptoe. Have you ever listened 
to the pit-pat of a man running round and round the 
shaft of a deep staircase ? They have a gaslight at the 
bottom burning night and day. I suppose it's gleaming- 
down there now . . . The sound dies out — the flame 
winks . . ." 

He noticed the vacillation of surprise passing over 
the steady curiosity of the black eyes fastened on his 
face as if the woman revolutionist received the sound of 
his voice into her pupils instead of her ears. He checked 
himself, passed his hand over his forehead, confused, like 
a man who has been dreaming aloud. 

" Where could a student be running if not to his 
lectures in the morning? At night it's another matter. 
I did not care if all the house had been there to look at 


me. But I don't suppose there was anyone. It's best 
not to be seen or heard. Aha ! The people that are 
neither seen nor heard are the hicky ones — in Russia. 
Don't you admire my luck ? " 

"Astonishing," she said. " If you have luck as well 
as determination, then indeed you are likely to turn out 
an invaluable acquisition for the work in hand." 

Her tone was earnest ; and it seemed to Razumov 
that it was speculative, even as though she were already 
apportioning him, in her mind, his share of the work. 
Her eyes were cast down. He waited, not very alert 
now, but with the grip of the ever-present danger giving 
him an air of attentive gravity. Who could have written 
about him in that letter from Petersburg? A fellow- 
student, surely — some imbecile victim of revolutionary 
propaganda, some foolish slave of foreign, subversive 
ideals. A long, famine-stricken, red-nosed figure pre- 
sented itself to his mental search. That must have been 
the fellow ! 

He smiled inwardly at the absolute wrong-headedness 
of the whole thing, the self-deception of a criminal idealist 
shattering his existence like a thunder-clap out of a clear 
sky, and re-echoing amongst the wreckage in the false 
assumptions of those other fools. Fancy that hungry 
and piteous imbecile furnishing to the curiosity of the 
revolutionist refugees this utterly fantastic detail ! He 
appreciated it as by no means constituting a danger. 
On the contrary. As things stood it was for his ad- 
vantage rather, a piece of sinister luck which had only 
to be accepted with proper caution. 

" And yet, Razumov," he heard the musing voice of 
the woman, "you have not the face of a lucky man." 
She raised her eyes with renewed interest. " And so 
that was the way of it. After doing your work you 
simply walked off and made for your rooms. That sort 


of thing succeeds sometimes. I suppose it was agreed 
beforehand that, once the business over, each of you 
would go his own way?" 

Razumov preserved the seriousness of his expression 
and the dehberate, if cautious, manner of speaking. 

" Was not that the best thing to do ? " he asked, in 
a dispassionate tone. " And anyway," he added, after 
waiting a moment, " we did not give much thought to 
what would come after. We never discussed formally 
any line of conduct. It was understood, I think." 
She approved his statement with slight nods. 
" You, of course, wished to remain in Russia ? " 
" In St. Petersburg itself," emphasized Razumov. 
" It was the only safe course for me. And, moreover, I 
had nowhere else to go." 

" Yes I Yes ! I know. Clearly. And the other — 
this wonderful Haldin appearing only to be regretted — 
you don't know what he intended ? " 

Razumov had foreseen that such a question would 
certainly come to meet him sooner or later. He raised 
his hands a little and let them fall helplessly by his side 
— nothing more. 

It was the white-haired woman conspirator who was 
the first to break the silence. 

" Very curious," she pronounced slowly. " And you 
did not think, Kirylo Sidorovitch, that he might perhaps 
wish to get in touch with you again ? " 

Razumov discovered that he could not suppress the 
trembling of his lips. But he thought that he owed it 
to himself to speak. A negative sign would not do 
again. Speak he must, if only to get at the bottom 
of what that St. Petersburg letter might have contained. 
" I stayed at home next day," he said, bending down 
a little and plunging his glance into the black eyes of 
the woman so that she should not observe the trembling 


of his lips. " Yes, I stayed at home. As my actions 
are remembered and written about, then perhaps you 
are aware that I was not seen at the lectures next day. 
Eh ? You didn't know ? Well, I stopped at home — 
the live-long day." 

As if moved by his agitated tone, she murmured a 
sympathetic " I see ! It must have been trying enough." 

" You seem to understand one's feelings," said 
Razumov steadily. " It was trying. It was horrible ; 
it was an atrocious day. It was not the last." 

" Yes, I understand. Aftersvards, when you heard 
they had got him. Don't I know how one feels after 
losing a comrade in the good fight ? One's ashamed of 
being left. And I can remember so many. Never 
mind. They shall be avenged before long. And what 
is death ? At any rate, it is not a shameful thing like 
some kinds of life." 

Razumov felt something stir in his breast, a sort of 
feeble and unpleasant tremor. 

" Some kinds of life ? " he repeated, looking at her 

"The subservient, submissive life. Life? No! Vegeta- 
tion on the filthy heap of iniquity which the world is. 
Life, Razumov, not to be vile must be a revolt — a pitiless 
protest — all the time." 

She calmed down, the gleam of suffused tears in her 
eyes dried out instantly by the heat of her passion, and 
it was in her capable, businesslike manner that she 
went on — 

" You understand me, Razumov. You are not an 
enthusiast, but there is an immense force of revolt in 
you. I felt it from the first, directly I set my eyes on 
you — you remember — in Zurich. Oh ! You are full 
of bitter revolt. That is good. Indignation flags some- 
times, revenge itself may become a weariness, but that 



uncompromising sense of necessity and justice which 
armed your and Haldin's hands to strike down that 
fanatical brute ... for it was that — nothing but that ! 
I have been thinking it out. It could have been nothing 
else but that." 

Razumov made a slight bow, the irony of which was 
concealed by an almost sinister immobility of feature. 

" I can't speak for the dead. As for myself, I can 
assure you that my conduct was dictated by necessity 
and by the sense of — well — retributive justice." 

" Good, that," he said to himself, while her eyes rested 
upon him, black and impenetrable like the mental caverns 
where revolutionary thought should sit plotting the 
violent way of its dream of changes. As if anything 
could be changed ! In this world of men nothing can 
be changed — neither happiness nor misery. They can 
only be displaced at the cost of corrupted consciences 
and broken lives — a futile game for arrogant philo- 
sophers and sanguinary triflers. Those thoughts darted 
through Razumov's head while he stood facing the old 
revolutionary hand, the respected, trusted, and influential 
Sophia Antonovna, whose word had such a weight in 
the " active " section of every party. She was much 
more representative than the great Peter Ivanovitch. 
Stripped of rhetoric, mysticism, and theories, she was the 
true spirit of destructive revolution. And she was the 
personal adversary he had to meet. It gave him a 
■ feeling of triumphant pleasure to deceive her out of her 
own mouth. The epigrammatic saying that speech has 
been given to us for the purpose of concealing our 
thoughts came into his mind. Of that cynical theory 
this was a very subtle and a very scornful application, 
flouting in its own words the very spirit of ruthless 
revolution, embodied in that woman with her white hair 
and black eyebrows, like slightly sinuous lines of Indian 


ink, drawn together by the perpendicular folds of a 
thoughtful frown. 

" That's it. Retributive. No pity ! " was the con- 
clusion of her silence. And this once broken, she went 
on impulsively in short, vibrating sentences — 

" Listen to my story, Razumov ! . . ." Her father 
was a clever but unlucky artisan. No joy had lighted 
up his laborious days. He died at fifty ; all the years 
of his life he had panted under the thumb of masters 
whose rapacity exacted from him the price of the water, 
of the salt, of the very air he breathed ; taxed the sweat 
of his brow and claimed the blood of his sons. No 
protection, no guidance ! What had society to say to 
him? Be submissive and be honest. If you rebel I 
shall kill you. If you steal I shall imprison you. But 
if you suffer I have nothing for you — nothing except 
perhaps a beggarly dole of bread — but no consolation for 
your trouble, no respect for your manhood, no pity for 
the sorrows of your miserable life. 

And so he laboured, he suffered, and he died. He 
died in the hospital. Standing by the common grave she 
thought of his tormented existence — she saw it whole. 
She reckoned the simple joys of life, the birthright of 
the humblest, of which his gentle heart had been robbed 
by the crime of a society which nothing can absolve. 

" Yes, Razumov," she continued, in an impressive, 
lowered voice, " it was like a lurid light in which I stood, 
still almost a child, and cursed not the toil, not 
the misery which had been his lot, but the great social 
iniquity of the system resting on unrequited toil and 
unpitied sufferings. From that moment I was a revolu- 

Razumov, trying to raise himself above the dangerous 
weaknesses of contempt or compassion, had preserved 
an impassive countenance. She, with an unaffected 


touch of mere bitterness, the first he could notice since 
he had come in contact with the woman, went on — 

" As I could not go to the Church where the priests 
of the system exhorted such unconsidered vermin as I 
to resignation, I went to the secret societies as soon as 
I knew how to find my way. I was sixteen years old — 
no more, Razumov ! And — look at my white hair." 

In these last words there was neither pride nor 
sadness. The bitterness too was gone. 

" There is a lot of it. I had always magnificent 
hair, even as a chit of a girl. Only, at that time we 
were cutting it short and thinking that there was the 
first step towards crushing the social infamy. Crush 
the Infamy ! A fine watchword ! I would placard it 
on the walls of prisons and palaces, carve it on hard 
rocks, hang it out in letters of fire on that empty sky 
for a sign of hope and terror — a portent of the 
end . . ." 

" You are eloquent, Sophia Antonovna," Razumov 
interrupted suddenly. " Only, so far you seem to have 
been writing it in water . . ." 

She was checked but not offended. " Who knows ? 
Very soon it may become a fact written all over that 
great land of ours," she hinted meaningly. " And then 
one would have lived long enough. White hair won't 

Razumov looked at her white hair : and this mark 
of so many uneasy years seemed nothing but a testimony 
to the invincible vigour of revolt. It threw out into an 
astonishing relief the unwrinkled face, the brilliant black 
glance, the upright compact figure, the simple, brisk 
self-possession of the mature personality — as though in 
her revolutionary pilgrimage she had discovered the 
secret, not of everlasting youth, but of everlasting 


How un-Russian she looked, thought Razumov. Her 
mother might have been a Jewess or an Armenian or — 
devil knew what. He reflected that a revolutionist is 
seldom true to the settled type. All revolt is the 
expression of strong individualism — ran his thought 
vaguely. One can tell them a mile off in any society, 
in any surroundings. It was astonishing that the 
police . . . 

" We shall not meet again very soon, I think," she 
was saying. " I am leaving to-morrow." 

" For Zurich ? " Razumov asked casually, but feeling 
relieved, not from any distinct apprehension, but from a 
feeling of stress as if after a wrestling match. 

" Yes, Zurich — and farther on, perhaps, much farther. 
Another journey. When I think of all my journeys 1 
The last must come some day. Never mind, Razumov. 
We had to have a good long talk. I would have 
certainly tried to see you if we had not met. Peter 
Ivanovitch knows where you live ? Yes. I meant to 
have asked him — but it's better like this. You see, we 
expect two more men ; and I had much rather wait here 
talking with you than up there at the house with . . ." 

Having cast a glance bej^ond the gate, she interrupted 
herself " Here they are," she said rapidly. " Well, 
Kirylo Sidorovitch, we shall have to say good-bye, 


In his incertitude of the ground on which he stood 
Razumov felt perturbed. Turning his head quickly, he 
saw two men on the opposite side of the road. Seeing 
themselves noticed by Sophia Antonovna, they crossed 
over at once, and passed one after another through the 
little gate by the side of the empty lodge. They looked 


hard at the stranger, but without mistrust, the crimson 
blouse being a flaring safety signal. The first, great 
white hairless face, double chin, prominent stomach, 
which he seemed to carry forward consciously within a 
strongly distended overcoat, only nodded and averted his 
eyes peevishly ; his companion — lean, flushed cheek- 
bones, a military red moustache below a sharp, salient 
nose — approached at once Sophia Antonovna, greeting 
her warmly. His voice was very strong but inarticulate. 
It sounded like a deep buzzing. The woman revolu- 
tionist was quietly cordial. ... 

" This is Razumov," she announced in a clear voice. 

The lean new-comer made an eager half-turn. " He 
will want to embrace me," thought our young man with 
a deep recoil of all his being, while his limbs seemed too 
heavy to move. But it was a groundless alarm. He 
had to do now with a generation of conspirators who 
did not kiss each other on both cheeks ; and raising an 
arm that felt like lead he dropped his hand into a 
largely-outstretched palm, fleshless and hot as if dried 
up by fever, giving a bony pressure, expressive, seeming 
to say, " Between us there's no need of words." 

The man had big, wide-open eyes. Razumov fancied 
he could see a smile behind their sadness. 

** This is Razumov," Sophia Antonovna repeated 
loudly for the benefit of the fat man, who at some 
distance displayed the profile of his stomach. 

No one moved. Everything, sounds, attitudes, 
movements, and immobility seemed to be part of an 
experiment, the result of which was a thin voice piping 
with comic peevishness — 

" Oh yes ! Razumov. We have been hearing of 
nothing but Mr. Razumov for months. For my part, I 
confess I would rather have seen Haldin on this spot 
instead of Mr. Razumov." 


The squeaky stress put on the name " Razumov — 
Mr. Razumov " pierced the ear ridiculously, like the fal- 
setto of a circus clown beginning an elaborate joke. 
Astonishment was Razumov's first response, followed by 
sudden indignation. 

" What's the meaning of this ? " he asked in a stern 

" Tut ! Silliness. He's always like that," Sophia 
Antonovna was obviously vexed. But she dropped the 
information, " Necator," from her lips just loud enough 
to be heard by Razumov. The abrupt squeaks of the 
fat man seemed to proceed from that thing like a balloon 
he carried under his overcoat. The stolidity of his 
attitude, the big feet, the lifeless, hanging hands, the 
enormous bloodless cheek, the thin wisps of hair strag- 
gling down the fat nape of the neck, fascinated Razumov 
into a stare on the verge of horror and laughter, 

Nikita, surnamed Necator, with a sinister aptness of 
alliteration I Razumov had heard of him. He had 
heard so much since crossing the frontier of these cele- 
brities of the militant revolution ; the legends, the stories, 
the authentic chronicle, which now and then peeps out 
before a half-incredulous world. Razumov had heard of 
him. He was supposed to have killed more gendarmes 
and police agents than any revolutionist living. He had 
been entrusted with executions. 

The paper with the letters N.N., the very pseudonym 
of murder, found pinned on the stabbed breast of a 
certain notorious spy (this picturesque detail of a sen- 
sational murder case had got into the newspapers), was 
the mark of his handiwork. " By order of the Com- 
mittee. — N.N." A corner of the curtain lifted to strike the 
imagination of the gaping world. He was said to have 
been innumerable times in and out of Russia, the Ne- 
cator of bureaucrats, of provincial governors, of obscure 


informers. He lived between whiles, Razumov haiT 
heard, on the shores of the Lake of Como, with a charm- 
ing wife, devoted to the cause, and two young children. 
But how could that creature, so grotesque as to set town 
dogs barking at its mere sight, go about on those deadly 
errands and slip through the meshes of the police? 

" What now ? what now ? " the voice squeaked. " I 
am only sincere. It's not denied that the other was the 
leading spirit. Well, it would have been better if he had 
been the one spared to us. More useful. I am not a 
sentimentalist. Say what I think . . . only natural." 

Squeak, squeak, squeak, without a gesture, without a 
stir — the horrible squeaky burlesque of professional 
jealousy — this man of a sinister alliterative nickname, 
this executioner of revolutionary verdicts, the terrifying 
N.N. exasperated like a fashionable tenor by the attention 
attracted to the performance of an obscure amateur. 
Sophia Antonovna shrugged her shoulders. The comrade 
with the martial red moustache hurried towards Razumov 
full of conciHatory intentions in his strong buzzing voice. 

" Devil take it ! And in this place, too, in the public 
street, so to speak. But you can see yourself how it is. 
One of his fantastic sallies. Absolutely of no consequence." 

" Pray don't concern yourself," cried Razumov, going 
off into a long fit of laughter. " Don't mention it." 

The other, his hectic flush like a pair of burns on 
his cheek-bones, stared for a moment and burst out 
laughing too. Razumov, whose hilarity died out all at 
once, made a step forward. 

" Enough of this," he began in a clear, incisive voice, 
though he could hardly control the trembling of his legs. 
" I will have no more of it. I shall not permit any- 
one. ... I can see very well what you are at with those 
allusions. . . . Inquire, investigate ! I defy you, but I 
will not be played with." 


He had spoken such words before. He had been 
driven to cry them out in the face of other suspicions. 
It was an infernal cycle bringing round that protest like 
a fatal necessity of his existence. But it was no use. 
He would be always played with. Luckily life does 
not last for ever. 

" I won't have it ! " he shouted, striking his fist into 
the palm of his other hand. 

" Kirylo Sidorovitch — what has come to you ? " The 
woman revolutionist interfered with authority. They 
were all looking at Razumov now ; the slayer of spies 
and gendarmes had turned about, presenting his enormous 
stomach in full, like a shield. 

" Don't shout. There are people passing." Sophia 
Antonovna was apprehensive of another outburst. A 
steam-launch from Monrepos had come to the landing- 
stage opposite the gate, its hoarse whistle and the churn- 
ing noise alongside all unnoticed, had landed a small 
bunch of local passengers who were dispersing their 
several ways. Only a specimen of early tourist in 
knickerbockers, conspicuous by a brand-new yellow leather 
glass-case, hung about for a moment, scenting something 
unusual about these four people within the rusty iron 
gates of what looked the grounds run wild of an un- 
occupied private house. Ah ! If he had only known 
what the chance of commonplace travelling had suddenly 
put in his way ! But he was a well-bred person ; he 
averted his gaze and moved off with short steps along 
the avenue, on the watch for a tramcar. 

A gesture from Sophia Antonovna, " Leave him to 
me," had sent the two men away — the buzzing of the 
inarticulate voice growing fainter and fainter, and the 
thin pipe of " What now ? what's the matter ? " reduced 
to the proportions of a squeaking toy by the distance. 
They had left him to her. So many things could be 


left safely to the experience of Sophia Antonovna. And 
at once, her black eyes turned to Razumov,_he^ tttIikI 
tried to get at the heart of that outburst. It had some 
meaning. No one is born an active revolutionist. The 
change comes disturbingly, with the force of a sudden 
vocation, bringing in its train agonizing doubts, assertive 
violences, an unstable state of the soul, till the final 
appeasement of the convert in the perfect fierceness of 
conviction. She had seen — often had only divined — 
scores of these young men and young women going 
through an emotional crisis. This young man looked 
like a moody egotist. And besides, it was a special — 
a unique case. She had never met an individuality 
which interested and puzzled her so much. 

" Take care, Razumov, my good friend. If you carry 
on like this you will go mad. You are angry with 
everybody and bitter with yourself, and on the look out 
for something to torment yourself with," 

" It's intolerable ! " Razumov could only speak in 
gasps. " You must admit that I can have no illusions 
on the attitude which ... it isn't clear ... or rather 
. . . only too clear." 

He made a gesture of despair. It was not his 
courage that failed him. The choking fumes of falsehood 
had taken him by the throat — the thought of being 
condemned to struggle on and on in that tainted 
atmosphere without the hope of ever renewing his strength 
by a breath of fresh air. 

" A glass of cold water is what you want." Sophia 
Antonovna glanced up the grounds at the house and 
shook her head, then out of the gate at the brimful 
placidity of the lake. With a half-comical shrug of the 
shoulders, she gave the remedy up in the face of that 

" It is you, my dear soul, who are flinging yourself 


at something which does not exist. What is it? Self- 
reproach, or what? It's absurd. You couldn't have 
gone and given yourself up because your comrade was 

She remonstrated with him reasonably, at some length 
too. He had nothing to complain of in his reception. 
Every new-comer was discussed more or less. Everybody 
had to be thoroughly understood before being accepted. 
No one that she could remember had been shown from 
the first so much confidence. Soon, very soon, perhaps 
sooner than he expected, he would be given an oppor- 
tunity of showing his devotion to the sacred task of 
crushing the Infamy. 

Razumov, listening quietly, thought : "It may be 
that she is trying to lull my suspicions to sleep. On 
the other hand, it is obvious that most of them are fools," 
He moved aside a couple of paces and, folding his arms 
on his breast, leaned back against the stone pillar of 
the gate. 

" As to what remains obscure in the fate of that 
poor Haldin," Sophia Antonovna dropped into a slowness 
of utterance which was to Razumov like the falling of 
molten lead drop by drop ; " as to that — though no one 
ever hinted that either from fear or neglect your conduct 
has not been what it should have been — well, I have a 
bit of intelligence . . ." 

Razumov could not prevent himself from raising his 
head, and Sophia Antonovna nodded slightly, 

" I have. You remember that letter from St. Peters- 
burg I mentioned to you a moment ago?" 

" The letter ? Perfectly. Some busybody has been 
reporting my conduct on a certain day. It's rather 
sickening. I suppose our police are greatly edified when 
they open these interesting and — and — superfluous 


" Oh dear no ! The police do not get hold of our 
letters as easily as you imagine. The letter in question 
did not leave St. Petersburg till the ice broke up. It 
went by the first English steamer which left the Neva 
this spring. They have a fireman on board — one of us, 
in fact. It has reached me from Hull . . ." 

She paused as if she were surprised at the sullen 
fixity of Razumov's gaze, but went on at once, and much 

" We have some of our people there who . . . but 
never mind. The writer of the letter relates an incident 
which he thinks may possibly be connected with Haldin's 
arrest. I was just going to tell you when those two 
men came along." 

" That also was an incident," muttered Razumov, " of 
a very charming kind — for me." 

" Leave off that !" cried Sophia Antonovna. " Nobody 
cares for Nikita's barking. There's no malice in him. 
Listen to what I have to say. You may be able to 
throw a light. There was in St. Petersburg a sort of 
town peasant — a man who owned horses. He came to 
town years ago to work for some relation as a driver 
and ended by owning a cab or two." 

She might well have spared herself the slight effort 
of the gesture : " Wait ! " Razumov did not mean to 
speak ; he could not have interrupted her now, not to 
save his life. The contraction of his facial muscles had 
been involuntary, a mere surface stir, leaving him sullenly 
attentive as before. 

" He was not a quite ordinary man of his class — it 
seems," she went on. " The people of the house — my 
informant talked with many of them — you know, one 
of those enormous houses of shame and misery . . ." 

Sophia Antonovna need not have enlarged on the 
character of the house. Razumov saw clearly, towering 


at her back, a dark mass of masonry veiled in snowflakes, 
with the long row of windows of the eating-shop shining 
greasily very near the ground. The ghost of that night 
pursued him. He stood up to it with rage and with 

" Did the late Haldin ever by chance speak to you 
of that house?" Sophia Antonovna was anxious to 

"Yes." Razumov, making that answer, wondered 
whether he were falling into a trap. It was so humili- 
ating to lie to these people that he probably could not 
have said no. " He mentioned to me once," he added, 
as if making an effort of memory, " a house of that sort. 
He used to visit some workmen there." 

" Exactly." 

Sophia Antonovna triumphed. Her correspondent^ 
had discovered that fact quite accidentally from the talk 
of the people of the house, having made friends with a 
workman who occupied a room there. They described 
Haldin's appearance perfectly. He brought comforting 
words of hope into their misery. He came irregularly, 

but he came very often, and — her correspondent wrote 

sometimes he spent a night in the house, sleeping, they 
thought, in a stable which opened upon the inner yard. 

" Note that, Razumov ! In a stable." 

Razumov had listened with a sort of ferocious but 
amused acquiescence. 

"Yes. In the straw. It was probably the cleanest 
spot in the whole house." 

" No doubt," assented the woman with that deep 
frown which seemed to draw closer together her black 
eyes in a sinister fashion. No four-footed beast could 
stand the filth and wretchedness so many human beings 
were condemned to suffer from in Russia. The point 
of this discovery was that it proved Haldin to have 


been familiar with that horse-owning peasant — a reckless, 
independent, free-living fellow not much liked by the 
other inhabitants of the house. He was believed to have 
been the associate of a band of housebreakers. Some 
of these got captured. Not while he was driving them, 
however ; but still there was a suspicion against the 
fellow of having given a hint to the police and , . . 

The woman revolutionist checked herself suddenly. 

" And you ? Have you ever heard your friend refer 
to a certain Ziemianitch ? " 

Razumov was ready for the name. He had been 
looking out for the question. " When it comes I shall 
own up," he had said to himself. But he took his time. 

" To be sure ! " he began slowly. " Ziemianitch, a 
peasant owning a team of horses. Yes. On one occasion. 
Ziemianitch! Certainly! Ziemianitch of the horses. . . . 
How could it have slipped my memory like this? One 
of the last conversations we had together." 

" That means," — Sophia Antonovna looked very 
grave, — " that means, Razumov, it was very shortly 
before — eh ? " 

" Before what ? " shouted Razumov, advancing at the 
woman, who looked astonished but stood her ground. 
" Before . . . Oh ! Of course, it was before ! How could 
it have been after? Only a few hours before." 

" And he spoke of him favourably ? " 

" With enthusiasm ! The horses of Ziemianitch ! 
The free soul of Ziemianitch ! " 

Razumov took a savage delight in the loud utterance 
of that name, which had never before crossed his lips 
audibly. He fixed his blazing eyes on the woman till 
at last her fascinated expression recalled him to himself 

" The late Haldin," he said, holding himself in, with 
downcast eyes, " was inclined to take sudden fancies to 
people, on — on — what shall I say — insufficient grounds." 


" There ! " Sophia Antonovna clapped her hands. 
" That, to my mind, settles it. The suspicions of my 
correspondent were aroused . . ." 

" Aha ! Your correspondent," Razumov said in an 
almost openly mocking tone. " What suspicions ? How 
aroused ? By this Ziemianitch ? Probably some drunken, 
gabbling, plausible . . ." 

" You talk as if you had known him." 

Razumov looked up. 

" No. But I knew Haldin." 

Sophia Antonovna nodded gravely, 

" I see. Every word you say confirms to my mind 
the suspicion communicated to me in that very interesting 
letter. This Ziemianitch was found one morning hang- 
ing from a hook in the stable — dead." 

Razumov felt a profound trouble. It was visible, 
because Sophia Antonovna was moved to observe 
vivaciously — 

" Aha ! You begin to see." 

He saw it clearly enough — in the light of a lantern 
casting spokes of shadow in a cellar-like stable, the body 
in a sheepskin coat and long boots hanging against the 
wall. A pointed hood, with the ends wound about up to 
the eyes, hid the face. " But that does not concern me," 
he reflected. " It does not affect my position at all. He 
never knew who had thrashed him. He could not have 
known." Razumov felt sorry for the old lover of the 
bottle and women. 

" Yes. Some of them end like that," he muttered. 
" What is your idea, Sophia Antonovna ? " 

It was really the idea of her correspondent, but Sophia 
Antonovna had adopted it fully. She stated it in one 
word — " Remorse." Razumov opened his eyes very 
wide at that. Sophia Antonovna's informant, by 
listening to the talk of the house, by putting this and 


that together, had managed to come very near to the 
truth of Haldin's relation to Ziemianitch. 

" It is I who can tell you what you were not certain 
of — that your friend had some plan for saving himself 
afterwards, for getting out of St. Petersburg, at any rate. 
Perhaps that and no more, trusting to luck for the rest. 
And that fellow's horses were part of the plan." 

" They have actually got at the truth," Razumov 
marvelled to himself, while he nodded judicially. " Yes, 
that's possible, very possible." But the woman revolu- 
tionist was very positive that it was so. First of all, a 
conversation about horses between Haldin and Ziemia- 
nitch had been partly overheard. Then there were the 
suspicions of the people in the house when their " young 
gentleman " (they did not know Haldin by his name) 
ceased to call at the house. Some of them used to 
charge Ziemianitch with knowing something of this 
absence. He denied it with exasperation ; but the fact 
was that ever since Haldin's disappearance he was not 
himself, growing moody and thin. Finally, during a 
quarrel with some woman (to whom he was making up), 
in which most of the inmates of the house took part 
apparently, he was openly abused by his chief enemy, an 
athletic pedlar, for an informer, and for having driven 
" our young gentleman to Siberia, the same as you did 
those young fellows who broke into houses." In conse- 
quence of this there was a fight, and Ziemianitch got flung 
down a flight of stairs. Thereupon he drank and moped 
for a week, and then hanged himself. 

Sophia Antonovna drew her conclusions from the 
tale. She charged Ziemianitch either with drunken in- 
discretion as to a driving job on a certain date, overheard 
by some spy in some low grog-shop — perhaps in the 
very eating-shop on the ground floor of the house — or, 
maybe, a downright denunciation, followed by remorse. 


A man like that would be capable of anything. People 
said he was a flighty old chap. And if he had been once 
before mixed up with the police — as seemed certain, 
though he always denied it — in connexion with these 
thieves, he would be sure to be acquainted with some 
police underlings, always on the look out for something 
to report. Possibly at first his tale was not made any- 
thing of till the day that scoundrel de P got his 

deserts. Ah ! But then every bit and scrap of hint 
and information would be acted on, and fatally they were 
bound to get Haldin. 

Sophia Antonovna spread out her hands — " Fatally." 

Fatality — chance! Razumov meditated in silent 
astonishment upon the queer verisimilitude of these in- 
ferences. They were obviously to his advantage. 

" It is right now to make this conclusive evidence 
known generally." Sophia Antonovna was very calm 
and deliberate again. She had received the letter three 
days ago, but did not write at once to Peter Ivanovitch. 
She knew then that she would have the opportunity 
presently of meeting several men of action assembled for 
an important purpose. 

" I thought it would be more effective if I could show 
the letter itself at large. I have it in my pocket now. 
You understand how pleased I was to come upon you." 

Razumov was saying to himself, *' She won't offer to 
show the letter to me. Not likely. Has she told me 
everything that correspondent of hers has found out ? " 
He longed to see the letter, but he felt he must not ask. 

" Tell me, please, was this an investigation ordered, 
as it were ? " 

" No, no," she protested. " There you are again with 

your sensitiveness. It makes you stupid. Don't you see, 

there was no starting-point for an investigation even if 

any one had thought of it. A perfect blank ! That's 



exactly what some people were pointing out as the reason 
for receiving you cautiously. It was all perfectly acci- 
dental, arising from my informant striking an acquaint- 
ance with an intelligent skindresser lodging in that 
particular slum-house. A wonderful coincidence ! " 

" A pious person," suggested Razumov, with a 
pale smile, " would say that the hand of God has done 
it all." 

" My poor father would have said that." Sophia 
Antonovna did not smile. She dropped her eyes. 
" Not that his God ever helped him. It's a long time 
since God has done anything for the people. Anyway, 
it's done." 

" All this would be quite final," said Razumov, with 
every appearance of reflective impartiality, " if there 
was any certitude that the ' our young gentleman ' of 
these people was Victor Haldin. Have we got that ? " 

" Yes. There's no mistake. My correspondent was 
as familiar with Haldin's personal appearance as with 
your own," the woman affirmed decisively. 

" It's the red-nosed fellow beyond a doubt," Razumov 
said to himself, with reawakened uneasiness. Had his 
own visit to that accursed house passed unnoticed ? 
It was barely possible. Yet it was hardly probable. 
It was just the right sort of food for the popular gossip 
that gaunt busybody had been picking up. But the 
letter did not seem to contain any allusion to that. 
Unless she had suppressed it. And, if so, why? If it 
had really escaped the prying of that hunger-stricken 
democrat with a confounded genius for recognizing 
people from description, it could only be for a time. 
He would come upon it presently and hasten to write 
another letter — and then ! 

For all the envenomed recklessness of his temper, 
fed on hate and disdain, Razumov shuddered inwardly. 


It guarded him from common fear, but it could not 
defend him from disgust at being dealt with in any way 
by these people. It was a sort of superstitious dread. 
Now, since his position had been made more secure by 
their own folly at the cost of Ziemianitch, he felt the 
need of perfect safety, with its freedom from direct lying, 
with its power of moving amongst them silent, un- 
questioning, listening, impenetrable, like the very fate of 
their crimes and their folly. Was this advantage his 
already ? Or not yet ? Or never would be ? 

" Well, Sophia Antonovna," his air of reluctant 
concession was genuine in so far that he was really 
loath to part with her without testing her sincerity by a 
question it was impossible to bring about in any way ; 
" well, Sophia Antonovna, if that is so, then " 

" The creature has done justice to himself," the 
woman observed, as if thinking aloud. 

" What ? Ah yes ! Remorse," Razumov muttered, 
with equivocal contempt. 

" Don't be harsh, Kirylo Sidorovitch, if you have 
lost a friend." There was no hint of softness in her 
tone, only the black glitter of her eyes seemed detached 
for an instant from vengeful visions. " He was a man 
of the people. The simple Russian soul is never wholly 
impenitent. It's something to know that." 

" Consoling ? " insinuated Razumov, in a tone of 

" Leave off railing," she checked him explosively. 
" Remember, Razumov, that women, children, and revolu- 
tionists hate irony, which is the negation of all saving 
instincts, of all faith, of all devotion, of all action. Don't 
rail ! Leave off. ... I don't know how it is, but there 
are moments when you are abhorrent to me. . . ." 

She averted her face. A languid silence, as if all 
the electricity of the situation had been discharged in 


this flash of passion, lasted for some time. Razumov had 
not flinched. Suddenly she laid the tips of her fingers 
on his sleeve. 

" Don't mind." 

" I don't mind," he said very quietly. 

He was proud to feel that she could read nothing 
on his face. He was really mollified, relieved, if only 
for a moment, from an obscure oppression. And 
suddenly he asked himself, " Why the devil did I go to 
that house ? It was an imbecile thing to do." 

A profound disgust came over him. Sophia 
Antonovna lingered, talking in a friendly manner with an 
evident conciliatory intention. And it was still about 
the famous letter, referring to various minute details 
given by her informant, who had never seen Ziemianitch. 
The " victim of remorse " had been buried several weeks 
before her correspondent began frequenting the house. 
It — the house — contained very good revolutionary 
material. The spirit of the heroic Haldin had passed 
through these dens of black wretchedness with a promise 
of universal redemption from all the miseries that 
oppress mankind. Razumov listened without hearing, 
gnawed by the newborn desire of safety with its in- 
dependence from that degrading method of direct 
lying which at times he found it almost impossible to 

No. The point he wanted to hear about could 
never come into this conversation. There was no way 
of bringing it forward. He regretted not having com- 
posed a perfect story for use abroad, in which his fatal 
connexion with the house might have been owned up 
to. But when he left Russia he did not know that 
Ziemianitch had hanged himself And, anyway, who 
could have foreseen this woman's "informant" stumbling 
upon that particular slum, of all the slums awaiting 


destruction in the purifying flame of social revolution ? 
Who could have foreseen ? Nobody ! " It's a perfect, 
diabolic surprise," thought Razumov, calm-faced in his 
attitude of inscrutable superiority, nodding assent to 
Sophia Antonovna's remarks upon the psychology of 
"the people," "Oh yes — certainly," rather coldly, but 
with a nervous longing in his fingers to tear some sort of 
confession out of her throat. 

Then, at the very last, on the point of separating, 
the feeling of relaxed tension already upon him, he heard 
Sophia Antonovna allude to the subject of his uneasi- 
ness. How it came about he could only guess, his mind 
being absent at the moment, but it must have sprung 
from Sophia Antonovna's complaints of the illogical 
absurdity of the people. For instance — that Ziemianitch 
was notoriously irreligious, and yet, in the last weeks of 
his life, he suffered from the notion that he had been 
beaten by the devil. 

" The devil," repeated Razumov, as though he had 
not heard aright. 

" The actual devil. The devil in person. You may 
well look astonished, Kirylo Sidorovitch. Early on the 
very night poor Haldin was taken, a complete stranger 
turned up and gave Ziemianitch a most fearful thrashing 
while he was lying dead-drunk in the stable. The 
wretched creature's body was one mass of bruises. He 
showed them to the people in the house." 

" But you, Sophia Antonovna, you don't believe in 
the actual devil ? " 

" Do you ? " retorted the woman curtly. " Not but 
that there are plenty of men worse than devils to make 
a hell of this earth," she muttered to herself. 

Razumov watched her, vigorous and white-haired, 
with the deep fold between her thin eyebrows, and her 
black glance turned idly away. It was obvious that 


she did not make much of the story — unless, indeed, 
this was the perfection of duplicity. " A dark young 
man," she explained further. " Never seen there 
before, never seen afterwards. Why are you smiling, 
Razumov ? " 

" At the devil being still young after all these ages," 
he answered composedly. " But who was able to 
describe him, since the victim, you say, was dead-drunk 
at the time ? " 

" Oh ! The eating-house keeper has described him. 
An overbearing, swarthy young man in a student's cloak, 
who came rushing in, demanded Ziemianitch, beat him 
furiously, and rushed away without a word, leaving the 
eating-house keeper paralysed with astonishment." 

" Does he, too, believe it was the devil ? " 

" That I can't say. I am told he's very reserved on 
the matter. Those sellers of spirits are great scoundrels 
generally. I should think he knows more of it than 

" Well, and you, Sophia Antonovna, what's your 
theory ? " asked Razumov in a tone of great interest. 
"Yours and your informant's, who is on the spot." 

" I agree with him. Some police-hound in disguise. 
Who else could beat a helpless man so unmercifully? 
As for the rest, if they were out that day on every 
trail, old and new, it is probable enough that they might 
have thought it just as well to have Ziemianitch at hand 
for more information, or for identification, or what not. 
Some scoundrelly detective was sent to fetch him along, 
and being vexed at finding him so drunk broke a stable 
fork over his ribs. Later on, after they had the big 
game safe in the net, they troubled their heads no more 
about that peasant." 

Such were the last words of the woman revolutionist 
in this conversation, keeping so close to the truth, 


departing from it so far in the verisimilitude of thoughts 
and conclusions as to give one the notion of the in- 
vincible nature of human error, a glimpse into the 
^utmost depths of self-deception. Razumov, after shaking 
hands with Sophia Antonovna, left the grounds, crossed 
the road, and walking out on the little steamboat pier 
leaned over the rail. 

His mind was at ease ; ease such as he had not 
known for many days, ever since that night . . . the 
night. The conversation with the woman revolutionist 
had given him the view of his danger at the very 
moment this danger vanished, characteristically enough. 
" I ought to have foreseen the doubts that would arise 
in those people's minds," he thought. Then his attention 
being attracted by a stone of peculiar shape, which he 
could see clearly lying at the bottom, he began to 
speculate as to the depth of water in that spot. But 
very soon, with a start of wonder at this extraordinary 
instance of ill-timed detachment, he returned to his 
train of thought. " I ought to have told very circum- 
stantial lies from the first," he said to himself, with a 
mortal distaste of the mere idea which silenced his 
mental utterance for quite a perceptible interval. 
" Luckily, that's all right now," he reflected, and after a 
time spoke to himself, half aloud, " Thanks to the devil," 
and laughed a little. 

The end of Ziemianitch then arrested his wandering 
thoughts. He was not exactly amused at the interpreta- 
tion, but he could not help detecting in it a certain piquancy. 
He owned to himself that, had he known of that suicide 
before leaving Russia, he would have been incapable of 
making such excellent use of it for his own purposes. 
He ought to be infinitely obliged to the fellow with the 
red nose for his patience and ingenuity, " A wonderful 
psychologist apparently," he said to himself sarcastically. 


Remorse, indeed ! It was a striking example of your 
true conspirator's blindness, of the stupid subtlet}- of 
people with one idea. This was a drama of love, not of 
conscience, Razumov continued to himself mockingly. A 
woman the old fellow was making up to ! A robust 
pedlar, clearly a rival, throwing him down a flight of 
stairs. . . . And at sixty, for a lifelong lover, it was not 
an easy matter to get over. That was a feminist of a 
different stamp from Peter Ivanovitch. Even the comfort 
of the bottle might conceivably fail him in this supreme 
crisis. At such an age nothing but a halter could cure 
the pangs of an unquenchable passion. And, besides, 
there was the wild exasperation aroused by the unjust 
aspersions and the contumely of the house, with the 
maddening impossibility to account for that mysterious 
thrashing, added to these simple and bitter sorrows. 
" Devil, eh ? " Razumov exclaimed, with mental excite- 
ment, as if he had made an interesting discovery. 
" Ziemianitch ended by falling into mysticism. So many 
of our true Russian souls end in that way ! Very 
characteristic." He felt pity for Ziemianitch, a large 
neutral pity, such as one may feel for an unconscious 
multitude, a great people seen from above — like a com- 
munity of crawling ants working out its destiny. It was 
as if this Ziemianitch could not possibly have done 
anything else. And Sophia Antonovna's cocksure and 
contemptuous " some police-hound " was characteristically 
Russian in another way. But there was no tragedy there. 
This was a comedy of errors. It was as if the devil himself 
were playing a game with all of them in turn. First with 
him, then with Ziemianitch, then with those revolutionists. 
The devil's own game this. . . . He interrupted his 
earnest mental soliloquy with a jocular thought at his 
own expense. " Hallo ! I am falling into mysticism 


His mind was more at ease than ever. Turning 
about he put his back against the rail comfortably. " All 
this fits with marvellous aptness," he continued to think. 
** The brilliance of my reputed exploit is no longer 
darkened by the fate of my supposed colleague. The 
mystic Ziemianitch accounts for that. An incredible 
chance has served me. No more need of lies. I shall 
have only to listen and to keep my scorn from getting 
the upper hand of my caution." 

He sighed, folded his arms, his chin dropped on his 
breast, and it was a long time before he started forward 
from that pose, with the recollection that he had made 
up his mind to do something important that day. What 
it was he could not immediately recall, yet he made no 
effort of memory, for he was uneasily certain that he 
would remember presently. 

He had not gone more than a hundred yards towards 
the town when he slowed down, almost faltered in his 
walk, at the sight of a figure walking in the contrary 
direction, draped in a cloak, under a soft, broad-brimmed 
hat, picturesque but diminutive, as if seen through the 
big end of an opera-glass. It was impossible to avoid 
that tiny man, for there was no issue for retreat. 

" Another one going to that mysterious meeting," 
thought Razumov. He was right in his surmise, only 
tliis one, unlike the others who came from a distance, was 
known to him personally. Still, he hoped to pass on 
with a mere bow, but it was impossible to ignore the 
little thin hand with hairy wrist and knuckles protruded 
in a friendly wave from under the folds of the cloak, 
worn Spanish-wise, in disregard of a fairly warm day, a 
corner flung over the shoulder. 

"And how is Herr Razumov?" sounded the greeting 
in German, by that alone made more odious to the object 
of the affable recognition. At closer quarters the 


diminutive personage looked like a reduction of an 
ordinary-sized man, with a lofty brow bared for a 
moment by the raising of the hat, the great pepper-and- 
salt full beard spread over the proportionally broad chest. 
A fine bold nose jutted over a thin mouth hidden in the 
mass of fine hair. All this, accented features, strong 
limbs in their relative smallness, appeared delicate 
without the slightest sign of debility. The eyes alone, 
almond-shaped and brown, were too big, with the whites 
slightly bloodshot by much pen labour under a lamp. 
The obscure celebrity of the tiny man was well known 
to Razumov. Polyglot, of unknown parentage, of inde- 
finite nationality, anarchist, with a pedantic and ferocious 
temperament, and an amazingly inflammatory capacity 
for invective, he was a power in the background, this 
violent pamphleteer clamouring for revolutionary justice, 
this Julius Laspara, editor of the Living Word, confidant 
of conspirators, inditer of sanguinary menaces and mani- 
festos, suspected of being in the secret of every plot. 
Laspara lived in the old town in a sombre, narrow 
house presented to him by a naive middle-class ad- 
mirer of his humanitarian eloquence. With him lived 
his two daughters, who overtopped him head and 
shoulders, and a pasty-faced, lean boy of six, languish- 
ing in the dark rooms in blue cotton overalls and 
clumsy boots, who might have belonged to either one of 
them or to neither. No stranger could tell. Julius 
Laspara no doubt knew which of his girls it was who, 
after casually vanishing for a few years, had as casually 
returned to him possessed of that child ; but, with 
admirable pedantry, he had refrained from asking her 
for details — no, not so much as the name of the father, 
because maternity should be an anarchist function. 
Razumov had been admitted twice to that suite of 
several small dark rooms on the top floor : dusty window- 


panes, litter of all sorts of sweepings all over the place, 
half-full glasses of tea forgotten on every table, the two 
Laspara daughters prowling about enigmatically silent, 
sleepy-eyed, corsetless, and generally, in their want of 
shape and the disorder of their rumpled attire, resem- 
bling old dolls ; the great but obscure Julius, his feet 
twisted round his three-legged stool, always ready to 
receive the visitors, the pen instantly dropped, the body 
screwed round with a striking display of the lofty 
brow and of the great austere beard. When he got 
down from his stool it was as though he had descended 
from the heights of Olympus. He was dwarfed by his 
daughters, by the furniture, by any caller of ordinary 
stature. But he very seldom left it, and still more rarely 
was seen walking in broad daylight. 

It must have been some matter of serious importance 
which had driven him out in that direction that afternoon. 
Evidently he wished to be amiable to that young man 
whose arrival had made some sensation in the world of 
political refugees. In Russian now, which he spoke, 
as he spoke and wrote four or five other European 
languages, without distinction and without force (other 
than that of invective), he inquired if Razumov had 
taken his inscriptions at the University as yet. And the 
young man, shaking his head negatively — 

" There's plenty of time for that. But, meantime, are 
you not going to write something for us ? " 

He could not understand how any one could refrain 
from writing on anything, social, economic, historical — 
anything. Any subject could be treated in the right 
spirit, and for the ends of social revolution. And, as it 
happened, a friend of his in London had got in touch 
with a review of advanced ideas. " We must educate, 
educate everybody — develop the great thought of absolute 
liberty and of revolutionary justice." 


Razumov muttered rather surlily that he did not 
even know English. 

" Write in Russian, We'll have it translated. There 
can be no difficulty. Why, without seeking further, 
there is Miss Haldin. My daughters go to see her some- 
times." He nodded significantly. " She does nothing, 
has never done anything in her life. She would be quite 
competent, with a little assistance. Only write. You 
know you must. And so good-bye for the present." 

He raised his arm and went on. Razumov backed^ 
against the low wall, looked after him, spat violently, and 
went on his way with an angry mutter — 

" Cursed Jew ! " 

He did not know anything about it. Julius Laspara 
might have been a Transylvanian, a Turk, an Andalusian, 
or a citizen of one of the Hanse towns for anything he 
could tell to the contrary. But this is not a story of the 
West, and this exclamation must be recorded, accom- 
panied by the comment that it was merely an expression 
of hate and contempt, best adapted to the nature of the 
feelings Razumov suffered from at the time. He was 
boiling with rage, as though he had been grossly insulted. 
He walked as if blind, following instinctively the shore of 
the diminutive harbour along the quay, through a pretty, 
dull garden, where dull people sat on chairs under the 
trees, till, his fury abandoning him, he discovered himself 
in the middle of a long, broad bridge. He slowed down 
at once. To his right, beyond the toy-like jetties, he 
saw the green slopes framing the Petit Lac in all the 
marvellous banality of the picturesque made of painted 
cardboard, with the more distant stretch of water inanimate 
and shining like a piece of tin. 

He turned his head away from that view for the 
tourists, and walked on slowly, his eyes fixed on the 
ground. One or two persons had to get out of his way, 


and then turned round to give a surprised stare to his 
profound absorption. The insistence of the celebrated 
subversive journalist rankled in his mind strangely. 
Write. Must write ! He ! Write ! A sudden light 
flashed upon him. To write was the very thing he had 
made up his mind to do that day. He had made up his 
mind irrevocably to that step and then had forgotten all 
about it. That incorrigible tendency to escape from the 
grip of the situation was fraught with serious danger. 
He was ready to despise himself for it. What was it ? 
Levity, or deep-seated weakness ? Or an unconscious 
dread ? 

"Is it that I am shrinking? It can't be! It's im- 
possible. To shrink now would be worse than moral 
suicide ; it would be nothing less than moral damna- 
tion," he thought. " Is it possible that I have a 
conventional conscience ? " 

He rejected that hypothesis with scorn, and, 
checked on the edge of the pavement, made ready to 
cross the road and proceed up the wide street facing 
the head of the bridge ; and that for no other reason 
except that it was there before him. But at the 
moment a couple of carriages and a slow-moving cart 
inter£osed^.and suddenly he turned sharp to the left, 
following the quay again, but now away from the lake. 

" It may be just my health," he thought, allowing 
himself a very unusual doubt of his soundness ; for, with 
the exception of a childish ailment or two, he had never 
been ill in his life. But that was a danger, too. Only, 
it seemed as though he were being looked after in a 
specially remarkable way. " If I believed in an active 
Providence," Razumov said to himself, amused grimly, 
" I would see here the working of an ironical finger. 
To have a Julius Laspara put in my way as if expressly 
to remind me of my purpose is Write, he had 


said. I must write — I must, indeed ! I shall write — 
never fear. Certainly. That's why I am here. And 
for the future I shall have something to write about." 

He was exciting himself by this mental soliloquy. 
But the idea of writing evoked the thought of a place to 
write in, of shelter, of privacy, and naturally of his 
lodgings, mingled with a distaste for the necessary 
exertion of getting there, with a mistrust as of some 
hostile influence awaiting him within those odious 
four walls. 

" Suppose one of these revolutionists," he asked 
himself, " were to take a fancy to call on me while I 
am writing ? " The mere prospect of such an interrup- 
tion made him shudder. One could lock one's door, or 
ask the tobacconist downstairs (some sort of a refugee 
himself) to tell inquirers that one was not in. Not very 
good precautions those. The manner of his life, he felt, 
must be kept clear of every cause for suspicion or even 
occasion for wonder, down to such trifling occurrences 
as a delay in opening a locked door. " I wish I were 
in the middle of some field miles away from everywhere," 
he thought. 

He had unconsciously turned to the left once more 
and now was aware of being on a bridge again. This 
one was much narrower than the other, and instead of 
being straight, made a sort of elbow or angle. At the 
point of that angle a short arm joined it to a hexagonal 
islet with a soil of gravel and its shores faced with 
dressed stone, a perfection of puerile neatness. A 
couple of tall poplars and a few other trees stood 
grouped on the clean, dark gravel, and under them a 
few garden benches and a bronze effigy of Jean Jacques 
Rousseau seated on its pedestal. 

On setting his foot on it Razumov became aware 
that, except for the woman in charge of the refreshment 


oh^let, he would be alone on the island. There was 
something of naive, odious, and inane simplicity about 
f that unfrequented tiny crumb of earth named after Jean 
/ Jacques Rousseau. Something pretentious and shabby, 
too. He asked for a glass of milk, which he drank 
standing, at one draught (nothing but tea had passed 
his lips since the morning), and was going away with a 
weary, lagging step when a thought stopped him short. 
jTe had found precisely what he needed. If solitude 
could ever be secured in the open air in the middle of a 
town, he would have it there on this absurd island, 
together with the faculty of watching the only approach. 
He went back heavily to a garden seat, dropped 
into it. This was the place for making a beginning of 
that writing which had to be done. The materials he 
had on him. " I shall always come here," he said to 
himself, and afterwards sat for quite a long time motion- 
less, without thought and sight and hearing, almost 
without life. He sat long enough for the declining sun 
to dip behind the roofs of the town at his back, and 
throw the shadow of the houses on the lake front over 
the islet, before he pulled out of his pocket a fountain 
pen, opened a small notebook on his knee, and began 
to write quickly, raising his eyes now and then at the 
connecting arm of the bridge. These glances were 
needless ; the people crossing over in the distance 
seemed unwilling even to look at the islet where the 
exiled effigy of the author of the Social Contract sat en- 
throned above the bowed head of Razumov in the sombre 
immobility of bronze. After finishing his scribbling, 
Razumov, with a sort of feverish haste, put away the pen, 
then rammed the notebook into his pocket, first tearing 
out the written pages with an almost convulsive brusque- 
ness. But the folding of the flimsy batch on his knee 
was executed with thoughtful nicety. That done, he 


leaned back in his seat and remained motionless, the 
papers holding in his left hand. The twilight had 
deepened. He got up and began to pace to and fro 
slowly under the trees. 

" There can be no doubt that now I am safe," he 
thought. His fine ear could detect the faintly accentu- 
ated murmurs of the current breaking against the point 
of the island, and he forgot himself in listening to them 
with interest. But even to his acute sense of hearing 
the sound was too elusive. 

" Extraordinary occupation I am giving myself up 
to," he murmured. And it occurred to him that this 
was about the only sound he could listen to innocently, 
and for his own pleasure, as it were. Yes, the sound of 
water, the voice of the wind — completely foreign to 
human passions. All the other sounds of this earth 
brought contamination to the solitude of a soul. 

This was Mr. Razumov's feeling, the soul, of course, 
being his own, and the word being used not in the 
theological sense, but standing, as far as I can under- 
stand it, for that part of Mr, Razumov which was not 
his body, and more specially in danger from the fires of 
this earth. And it must be admitted that in Mr. 
Razumov's case the bitterness of solitude from which he 
suffered was not an altogether morbid phenomenon. 





THAT I should, at the beginning of this retrospect, 
mention again that Mr. Razumov's youth had no 
one in the world, as literally no one as it can be honestly 
affirmed of any human being, is but a statement of fact 
from a man who believes in the psychological value of 
facts. There is also, perhaps, a desire of punctilious 
fairness. Unidentified with anyone in this narrative 
where the aspects of honour and shame are remote from 
the ideas of the Western world, and taking my stand on 
the ground of common humanity, it is for that very 
reason that I feel a strange reluctance to state baldly 
here what every reader has most likely already dis- 
covered himself. Such reluctance may appear absurd if 
it were not for the thought that because of the irnpe'r-"" 
fection of language there is always something ungracious 
(and even disgraceful) in the exhibition of naked truth. 
But the time has come when Councillor of State Mikulin 
can no longer be ignored. His simple question "Where 
to ? " on which we left Mr. Razumov in St. Petersburg, 
throws a light on the general meaning of this individual 

" Where to ? " was the answer in the form of a 
gentle question to what we may call Mr. Razumov's 
declaration of independence. The question was not 
menacing in the least and, indeed, had the ring of 
innocent inquiry. Had it been taken in a merely topo- 


graphical sense, the only answer to it would have 
appeared sufficiently appalling to Mr. Razumov. Where 
to ? Back to his rooms, where the Revolution had 
sought him out to put to a sudden test his dormant in- 
stincts, his half-conscious thoughts and almost wholly 
unconscious ambitions, by the touch as of some furious 
and dogmatic religion, with its call to frantic sacrifices, 
its tender resignations, its dreams and hopes uplifting the 
soul by the side of the most sombre moods of despair. 
And Mr. Razumov had let go the door-handle and 
had come back to the middle of the room, asking Councillor 
Mikulin angrily, " What do you mean by it ? " 

As far as 1 can tell, Councillor Mikulin did not 
answer that question. He drew Mr. Razumov into familiar 
conversation. It is the peculiarity of Russian natures 
that, however strongly engaged in the drama of action, 
they are still turning their ear to the murmur of abstract 
ideas. This conversation (and others later on) need not 
be recorded. Suffice it to say that it brought Mr. 
Razumov as we know him to the test of another faith. 
There was nothing official in its expression, and Mr. 
Razumov was led to defend his attitude of detachment. 
But Councillor Mikulin would have none of his argu- 
ments. " For a man like you," were his last weighty 
words in the discussion, " such a position is impossible. 
Don't forget that I have seen that interesting piece of 
paper. I understand your liberalism. I have an intel- 
lect of that kind myself Reform for me is mainly a 
question of method. But the principle of revolt is a 
physical intoxication, a sort of hysteria which must be 
kept away from the masses. You agree to this without 
reserve, don't you ? Because, you see, Kirylo Sidorovitch, 
abstention, reserve, in certain situations, come very near 
to political crime. The ancient Greeks understood that 
very well." 


Mr. Ra/.umov, listening with a faint smile, asked 
Councillor Mikulin point-blank if this meant that he was 
going to have him watched. 

The high official took no offence at the cynical in- 

" No, Kirylo Sidorovitch," he answered gravely. " I 
don't mean to have you watched." 

Razumov, suspecting a lie, affected yet the greatest 
liberty of mind during the short remainder of that inter- 
view. The older man expressed himself throughout in 
familiar terms, and with a sort of shrewd simplicity. 
Razumov concluded that to get to the bottom of that 
mind was an impossible feat. A great disquiet made 
his heart beat quicker. The high official, issuing from 
behind the desk, was actually offering to shake hands 
with him. 

" Good-bye, Mr Razumov. An understanding be- 
tween intelligent men is always a satisfactory occurrence. 
Is it not ? And, of course, these rebel gentlemen have 
not the monopoly of intelligence." 

" I presume that I shall not be wanted any more ? " 
Razumov brought out that question while his hand was 
still being grasped. Councillor Mikulin released it slowly. 

" That, Mr. Razumov," he said with great earnestness, 
" is as it may be. God alone knows the future. But 
you may rest assured that I never thought of having you 
watched. You are a young man of great independence. 
Yes. You are going away free as air, but you shall end 
by coming back to us." 

" I ! I ! " Razumov exclaimed in an appalled murmur 
of protest. " What for ? " he added feebly. 

" Yes ! You yourself, Kirylo Sidorovitch," the high 
police functionary insisted in a low, severe tone of con- 
viction. "You shall be coming back to us. Some of 
our greatest minds had to do that in the end." 


" Our greatest minds," repeated Razumov in a dazed 

" Yes, indeed ! Our greatest minds. . . . Good-bye." 

Razumov, shown out of the room, walked away from 
the door. But before he got to the end of the passage 
he heard heavy footsteps, and a voice calling upon him 
to stop. He turned his head and was startled to see 
Councillor Mikulin pursuing him in person. The high 
functionary hurried up, very simple, slightly out of breath. 

" One minute. As to what we were talking about 
just now, it shall be as God wills it. But 1 may have 
occasion to require you again. You look surprised, 
Kirylo Sidorovitch. Yes, again ... to clear up any 
further point that may turn up." 

" But I don't know anything," stammered out 
Razumov. " I couldn't possibly know anything." 

" Who can tell ? Things are ordered in a wonderful 
manner. Who can tell what inay become disclosed to 
you before this day is out ? You have been already the 
instrument of Providence. You smile, Kirylo Sidoro- 
vitch ; you are an esprit fort." (Razumov was not 
conscious of having smiled.) " But I believe firmly in 
Providence. Such a confession on the lips of an old 
hardened official like me may sound to you funny. But 
you yourself yet some day shall recognize . . . Or else 
what happened to you cannot be accounted for at all. 
Yes, decidedly I shall have occasion to see you again, but 
not here. This wouldn't be quite — h'm . . . Some 
convenient place shall be made known to you. And 
even the written communications between us in that re- 
spect or in any other had better pass through the inter- 
mediacy of our — if I may express myself so — common 
friend. Prince K . Now I beg you, Kirylo Sidoro- 
vitch — don't ! I am certain he'll consent. You must 
give me the credit of being aware of what I am saying. 


You have no better friend than Prince K , and as to 

myself it is a long time now since I've been honoured by 
his . . ." 

He glanced down his beard. 

" I won't detain you any longer. We live in difficult 
times, in times of monstrous chimeras and evil dreams 
and criminal follies. We shall certainly meet once more. 
It may be some little time, though, before we do. Till 
then may Heaven send you fruitful reflections ! " 

Once in the street, Razumov started off rapidly, 
without caring for the direction. At first he thought of 
nothing ; but in a little while the consciousness of his 
position presented itself to him as something so ugly, 
dangerous, and absurd, the difficulty of ever freeing 
himself from the toils of that complication so insoluble, 
that the idea of going back and, as he termed it to 
himself, confessing to Councillor Mikulin flashed through 
his mind. 

Go back! What for? Confess! To what? "I 
have been speaking to him with the greatest openness," 
he said to himself with perfect truth. " What else could 
I tell him ? That I have undertaken to carry a message 
to that brute Ziemianitch ? Establish a false complicity 
and destroy what chance of safety I have won for nothing 
—what folly ! " 

Yet he could not defend himself from fancying that 
Councillor Mikulin was, perhaps, the only man in the 
world able to understand his conduct. To be understood 
appeared extremely fascinating. 

On the way home he had to stop several times ; all 
his strength seemed to run out of his limbs ; and in the 
movement of the busy streets, isolated as if in a desert, 
he remained suddenly motionless for a minute or so 
before he could proceed on his way. He reached his 
rooms at last. 


Then came an illness, something in the nature of a 
low fever, which all at once removed him to a great dis- 
tance from the perplexing actualities, from his very- 
room, even. He never lost consciousness ; he only 
seemed to himself to be existing languidly somewhere 
very far away from everything that had ever happened 
to him. He came out of this state slowly, with an effect, 
that is to say, of extreme slowness, though the actual 
number of days was not very great. And when he had 
got back into the middle of things they were all changed, 
subtly and provokingly in their nature : inanimate objects, 
human faces, the landlady, the rustic servant-girl, the 
staircase, the streets, the very air. He tackled these 
changed conditions in a spirit of severity. He walked 
to and fro to the University, ascended stairs, paced the 
passages, listened to lectures, took notes, crossed court- 
yards in angry aloofness, his teeth set hard till his jaws 

He was perfectly aware of madcap Kostia gazing 
like a young retriever from a distance, of the famished 
student with the red drooping nose, keeping scrupulously 
away as desired ; of twenty others, perhaps, he knew 
well enough to speak to. And they all had an air of 
curiosity and concern as if they expected something to 
happen. " This can't last much longer," thought Razu- 
mov more than once. On certain days he was afraid 
that anyone addressing him suddenly in a certain way 
would make him scream out insanely a lot of filthy 
abuse. Often, after returning home, he would drop into 
a chair in his cap and cloak and remain still for hours 
holding some book he had got from the library in his 
hand ; or he would pick up the little penknife and sit 
there scraping his nails endlessly and feeling furious all 
the time — simply furious. " This is impossible," he 
would mutter suddenly to the empty room. 


(FacT'to be noted : this room might conceivably have 
become physically repugnant to him, emotionally intoler- 
able, morally uninhabitable. But no. Nothing of the 
sort (and he had himself dreaded it at first), nothing of 
the sort happened. On the contrary, he liked his 
lodgings better than any other shelter he, who had 
never known a home, had ever hired before. He liked 
his lodgings so well that often, on that very account, he 
found a certain difficulty in making up his mind to go 
out. It resembled a physical seduction such as, for 
instance, makes a man reluctant to leave the neighbour- 
hood of a fire on a cold day. 

For as, at that time, he seldom stirred except to go 
to the University (what else was there to do ?) it followed 
that whenever he went abroad he felt himself at once 
closely involved in the moral consequences of his act. 
It was there that the dark prestige of the Haldin mystery 
fell on him, clung to him like a poisoned robe it was 
impossible to fling off. He suffered from it exceedingly, 
as well as from the conversational, commonplace, un- 
avoidable intercourse with the other kind of students. 
" They must be wondering at the change in me," he 
reflected anxiously. He had an uneasy recollection of 
having savagely told one or two innocent, nice enough 
fellows to go to the devil. Once a married professor he 
used to call upon formerly addressed him in passing : 
" How is it we never see you at our Wednesdays now, 
Kirylo Sidorovitch ? " Razumov was conscious of meet- 
ing this advance with odious, muttering boorishness. 
The professor was obviously too astonished to be offended. 
All this was bad. And all this was Haldin, always 
Haldin — nothing but Haldin — everywhere Haldin : a 
moral spectre infinitely more effective than any visible 
apparition of the dead. It was only the room through 
which that man had blundered on his way from crime to 


death that his spectre did not seem to be able to haunt. 
Not, to be exact, that he was ever completely absent 
from it, but that there he had no sort of power. There 
it was Razumov who had the upper hand, in a com- 
posed sense of his own superiority. A vanquished 
phantom — nothing more. Often in the evening, his 
repaired watch faintly ticking on the table by the side of 
the lighted lamp, Razumov would look up from his 
writing and stare at the bed with an expectant, dis- 
passionate attention. Nothing was to be seen there. 
He never really supposed that anything ever could be 
seen there. After a while he would shrug his shoulders 
slightly and bend again over his work. For he had gone 
to work and, at first, with some success. His unwilling- 
ness to leave that place where he was safe from Haldin 
grew so strong that at last he ceased to go out at all. 
From early morning till far into the night he wrote, he 
wrote for nearly a week ; never looking at the time, and 
only throwing himself on the bed when he could keep his 
eyes open no longer. Then, one afternoon, quite casually, 
he happened to glance at his watch. He laid down his 
pen slowly. 

" At this very hour," was his thought, " the fellow 
stole unseen into this room while I was out. And there 
he sat quiet as a mouse — perhaps in this very chair." 

Razumov got up and began to pace the floor steadily, 
glancing at the watch now and then. " This is the time 
when I returned and found him standing against the 
stove," he observed to himself. When it grew dark he 
lit his lamp. Later on he interrupted his tramping once 
more, only to wave away angrily the girl who attempted 
to enter the room with tea and something to eat on a 
tray. And presently he noted the watch pointing at the 
hour of his own going forth into the falling snow on that 
terrible errand. 


" Complicity," he muttered faintly, and resumed his 
pacing, keeping his eye on the hands as they crept on 
slowly to the time of his return. 

" And, after all," he thought suddenly, " I might have 
been the chosen instrument of Providence. This is a 
manner of speaking, but there may be truth in every 
manner of speaking. What if that absurd saying were 
true in its essence ? " 

He meditated for a while, then sat down, his legs 
stretched out, with stony eyes, and with his arms hang- 
ing down on each side of the chair like a man totally 
abandoned by Providence — desolate. 

He noted the time of Haldin's departure and con- 
tinued to sit still for another half-hour ; then muttering, 
" And now to work," drew up to the table, seized the 
pen and instantly dropped it under the influence of a 
profoundly disquieting reflection : " There's three weeks 
gone by and no word from Mikulin." 

What did it mean ? Was he forgotten ? Pos- 
sibly. Then why not remain forgotten — creep in 
somewhere? Hide. But where? How? With 
whom ? In what hole ? And was it to be for ever, 
or what ? 

But a retreat was big with shadowy dangers. The 
eye of the social revolution was on him, and Razumov 
for a moment felt an unnamed and despairing dread, 
mingled with an odious sense of humiliation. Was it 
possible that he no longer belonged to himself? This 
was damnable. But why not simply keep on as before ? 
Study. Advance. Work hard as if nothing had hap- 
pened (and first of all win the Silver Medal), acquire 
distinction, become a great reforming servant of the 
greatest of States. Servant, too, of the mightiest homo- 
geneous mass of mankind with a capability for logical, 
guided development in a brotherly solidarity of force and 


aim such as the world had never dreamt of . . . the 
Russian nation ! . . . 

Calm, resolved, steady in his great purpose, he was 
stretching his hand towards the pen when he happened 
to glance towards the bed. He rushed at it, enraged, 
with a mental scream : " It's you, crazy fanatic, who 
stands in the way ! " He flung the pillow on the floor 
violently, tore the blankets aside. . . . Nothing there. 
And, turning away, he caught for an instant in the air, 
like a vivid detail in a dissolving view of two heads, the 

eyes of General T and of Privy-Councillor Mikulin 

side by side fixed upon him, quite different in character, 
but with the same unflinching and weary and yet pur- 
poseful expression. . . . servants of the nation ! 

Razumov tottered to the washstand very alarmed 
about himself, drank some water and bathed his fore- 
head. " This will pass and leave no trace," he thought 
confidently. " I am all right." But as to supposing 
that he had been forgotten it was perfect nonsense. He 
was a marked man on that side. And that was nothing. 
It was what that miserable phantom stood for which had 
to be got out of the way. ..." If one only could go 
and spit it all out at some of them — and take the conse- 

He imagined himself accosting the red-nosed student 
and suddenly shaking his fist in his face. " From that 
one, though," he reflected, " there's nothing to be got, 
because he has no mind of his own. He's living in a 
red democratic trance. Ah ! you want to smash your 
way into universal happiness, my boy. I will give you 
universal happiness, you silly, hypnotized ghoul, you ! 
And what about my own happiness, eh ? Haven't I got 
any right to it, just because I can think for myself? . . ." 

And again, but with a different mental accent, 
Razumov said to himself, " I am young. Everything 


can be lived down." At that moment he was crossing 
the room slowly, intending to sit down on the sofa and 
try to compose his thoughts. But before he had got so 
far everything abandoned him — hope, courage, belief in 
himself, trust in men. His heart had, as it were, suddenly 
emptied itself. It was no use struggling on. Rest, 
work, solitude, and the frankness of intercourse with his 
kind were alike forbidden to him. Everything was gone. 
His existence was a great cold blank, something like the 
enormous plain of the whole of Russia levelled with snow 
and fading gradually on all sides into shadows and 

He sat down, with swimming head, closed his eyes, 
and remained like that, sitting bolt upright on the sofa 
and perfectly awake for the rest of the night ; till the 
girl bustling into the outer room with the samovar 
thumped with her fist on the door, calling out, " Kirylo 
Sidorovitch, please ! It is time for you to get up 1 " 

Then, pale like a corpse obeying the dread summons 
of judgement, Razumov opened his eyes and got up. 

• ■■•••• 

Nobody will be surprised to hear, I suppose, that 
when the summons came he went to see Councillor 
Mikulin. It came that very morning, while, looking 
white and shaky, like an invalid just out of bed, he was 
trying to shave himself. The envelope was addressed in 
the little attorney's handwriting. That envelope con- 
tained another, superscribed to Razumov, in Prince 

K 's hand, with the request " Please forward under 

cover at once " in a corner. The note inside was an 
autograph of Councillor Mikulin. The writer stated 
candidly that nothing had arisen which needed clearing 
up, but nevertheless appointed a meeting with Mr. 
Razumov at a certain address in town which seemed to 
be that of an oculist. 

UmiA^j M"H> 4W) ^>M.^ 


Razumov read it, finished shaving, dressed, looked at 
the note again, and muttered gloomily, " Oculist." He 
pondered over it for a time, lit a match, and burned the 
two envelopes and the enclosure carefully. Afterwards 
he waited, sitting perfectly idle and not even looking at 
anything in particular till the appointed hour drew near 
— and then went out. 

Whether, looking at the unofficial character of the 
summons, he might have refrained from attending to it 
is hard to say. Probably not. At any rate, he went ; 
but, what's more, he went with a certain eagerness, 
which may appear incredible till it is remembered that 
Councillor Mikulin was the only person on earth with 
whom Razumov could talk, taking the Haldin adventure 
for granted. And Haldin, when once taken for granted, 
was no longer a haunting, falsehood-breeding spectre. 
Whatever troubling power he exercised in all the other 
places of the earth, Razumov knew very well that at 
this oculist's address he would be merely the hanged 

murderer of M. de P and nothing more. For the 

dead can live only with the exact intensity and quality 
of the life imparted to them by the living. So Mr. 
Razumov, certain of relief, went to meet Councillor 
Mikulin with the eagerness of a pursued person 
welcoming any sort of shelter. 

This much said, there is no need to tell anything 
more of that first interview and of the several others. 
To the morality of a Western reader an account of these 
meetings would wear perhaps the sinister character of 
old legendary tales where the Enemy of Mankind is 
represented holding subtly mendacious dialogues with 
some tempted soul. It is not my part to protest. Let 
me but remark that the Evil One, with his single passion 
of Satanic pride for the only motive, is yet, on a larger, 
modern view, allowed to be not quite so black as he used 


to be painted. With what greater latitude, then, should 
we appraise the exact shade of mere mortal man, 
with his many passions and his miserable ingenuity 
in error, always dazzled by the base glitter of mixed 
motives, everlastingly betrayed by a short-sighted 

Councillor Mikulin was one of those powerful officials 
who, in a position not obscure, not occult, but simply 
inconspicuous, exercise a great influence over the methods 
rather than over the conduct of affairs. A devotion to 
Church and Throne is not in itself a criminal sentiment ; 
to prefer the will of one to the will of many does not 
argue the possession of a black heart or prove congenital 
idiocy. Councillor Mikulin was not only a clever but 
also a faithful official. Privately he was a bachelor with a 
love of comfort, living alone in an apartment of five 
rooms luxuriously furnished ; and was known by his 
intimates to be an enlightened patron of the art of 
female dancing. Later on the larger world first heard 
of him in the very hour of his downfall, during one of 
those State trials which astonish and puzzle the average 
plain man who reads the newspapers, by a glimpse of 
unsuspected intrigues. And in the stir of vaguely seen 
monstrosities, in that momentary, mysterious disturbance 
of muddy waters. Councillor Mikulin went under, 
dignified, with only a calm, emphatic protest of his 
innocence — nothing more. No disclosures damaging to 
a harassed autocracy, complete fidelity to the secrets of 
the miserable arcana imperii deposited in his patriotic 
breast, a display of bureaucratic stoicism in a Russian 
official's ineradicable, almost sublime contempt for truth ; 
stoicism of silence understood only by the very few of 
the initiated, and not without a certain cynical grandeur 
of self-sacrifice on the part of a sybarite. For the terribly 
heavy sentence turned Councillor Mikulin civilly into a 


corpse, and actually into something very much like a 
common convict. 

It seems that the savage autocracy, no more than 
the divine democracy, does not limit its diet exclusively 
to the bodies of its enemies. It devours its friends and 
servants as well. The downfall of His Excellency 
Gregory Gregorievitch Mikulin (which did not occur 
till some years later) completes all that is known of the 

man. But at the time of M. de P 's murder (or 

execution) Councillor Mikulin, under the modest style of 
Head of Department at the General Secretariat, exer- 
cised a wide influence as the confidant and right-hand 
man of his former schoolfellow and lifelong friend, 

General T . One can imagine them talking over 

the case of Mr. Razumov, with the full sense of their 
unbounded power over all the lives in Russia, with 
cursory disdain, like two Olympians glancing at a 

worm. The relationship with Prince K was enough 

to save Razumov from some- carelessly arbitrary pro- 
ceeding, and it is also very probable that after the 
interview at the Secretariat he would have been left 
alone. Councillor Mikulin would not have forgotten 
him (he forgot no one who ever fell under his obser- 
vation), but would have simply dropped him for ever. 
Councillor Mikulin was a good-natured man and wished 
no harm to anyone. Besides (with his own reforming 
tendencies) he was favourably impressed by that young 

student, the son of Prince K , and apparently no 


But as fate would have it, while Mr. Razumov was 
finding that no way of life was possible to him, Councillor 
Mikulin's discreet abilities were rewarded by a very 
responsible post — nothing less than the direction of the 
general police supervision over Europe. And it was 
then, and then only, when taking in hand the perfecting 


of the service which watches the revolutionist activities 
abroad, that he thought again of Mr. Razumov. He 
saw great possibilities of special usefulness in that 
uncommon young man on whom he had a hold already, 
with his peculiar temperament, his unsettled mind and 
shaken conscience, a struggling in the toils of a false 
position. ... It was as if the revolutionists themselves 
had put into his hand that tool so much finer than the 
common base instruments, so perfectly fitted, if only 
vested with sufficient credit, to penetrate into places 
inaccessible to common informers. Providential ! Pro- 
vidential ! And Prince K , taken into the secret, 

was ready enough to adopt that mystical view too. 
" It will be necessary, though, to make a career for him 
afterwards," he had stipulated anxiously. " Oh ! abso- 
lutely. We shall make that our affair," Mikulin had 

agreed. Prince K 's mysticism was of an artless 

kind ; but Councillor Mikulin was astute enough for two. 
Things and men have always a certain sense, a 
certain side by which they must be got hold of if one 
wants to obtain a solid grasp and a perfect command. 
The power of Councillor Mikulin consisted in the ability 
to seize upon that sense, that side in the men he used. 
It did not matter to him what it was — vanity, despair, 
love, hate, greed, intelligent pride or stupid conceit, it 
was all one to him as long as the man could be made 
to serve. The obscure, unrelated young student Razu- 
mov, in the moment of great moral loneliness, was 
allowed to feel that he was an object of interest to a 

small group of people of high position. Prince K 

was persuaded to intervene personally, and on a certain 
occasion gave way to a manly emotion which, all 
unexpected as it was, quite upset Mr. Razumov. The 
sudden embrace of that man, agitated by his loyalty to 
a throne and by suppressed paternal affection, was a 


revelation to Mr. Razumov of something within his own 

" So that was it ! " he exclaimed to himself. A sort 
of contemptuous tenderness softened the young man's 
grim view of his position as he reflected upon that 
agitated interview with Prince K . This simple- 
minded, worldly ex-Guardsman and senator whose soft 
grey official whiskers had brushed against his cheek, his 
aristocratic and convinced father, was he a whit less 
estimable or more absurd than that famine-stricken, 
fanatical revolutionist, the red-nosed student ? 

And there was some pressure, too, besides the 
persuasiveness. Mr. Razumov was always being made 
jjfO feel that he had committed himself There was no 
getting away from that feeling, from that soft, unanswer- 
able, "Where to?" of Councillor Mikulin. But no 
susceptibilities were ever hurt. It was to be a 
dangerous mission to Geneva for obtaining, at a critical 
moment, absolutely reliable information from a very 
inaccessible quarter of the inner revolutionary circle. 
There were indications that a very serious plot was 
being matured. . . . The repose indispensable to a 
great country was at stake, , . . A great scheme of 
orderly reforms would be endangered, . . . The highest 
personages in the land were patriotically uneasy, and 
so on. In short. Councillor Mikulin knew what to say. 
This skill is to be inferred clearly from the mental 
and psychological self-confession, self-analysis of Mr. 
Razumov's written journal — the pitiful resource of a 
young man who had near him no trusted intimacy, 
no natural affection to turn to. 

How all this preliminary work was concealed from 
observation need not be recorded. The expedient of 
the oculist gives a sufficient instance. Councillor 
Mikulin was resourceful, and the task not verv difficult. 


Any fellow-student, even the red-nosed one, was per- 
fectly welcome to see Mr. Razumov entering a private 
house to consult an oculist. Ultimate success depended 
solely on the revolutionary self-delusion which credited 
Razumov with a mysterious complicity in the Haldin 
affair. To be compromised in it was credit enough — 
and it was their own doing. It was precisely that 
which stamped Mr. Razumov as a providential man, 
wide as poles apart from the usual type of agent for 
" European supervision." 

And it was that which the Secretariat set itself the 
task to foster by a course of calculated and false 

It came at last to this, that one evening Mr. 
Razumov was" unexpectedly called upon by one of 
the " thinking " students whom formerly, before the 
Haldin affair, he used to meet at various private 
gatherings ; a big fellow with a quiet, unassuming 
manner and a pleasant voice. 

Recognizing his voice raised in the ante-room, " May 
one come in ? " Razumov, lounging idly on his couch, 
jumped up. " Suppose he were coming to stab me ? " 
he thought sardonically, and, assuming a green shade 
over his left eye, said in a severe tone, " Come in." 

The other was embarrassed ; hoped he was not 

" You haven't been seen for several days, and I've 
wondered." He coughed a little. " Eye better ? " 

" Nearly well now." 

" Good. I won't stop a minute ; but you see I, that 
is, we — anyway, I have undertaken the duty to warn you, 
Kirylo Sidorovitch, that you are living in false security 

Razumov sat still with his head leaning on his hand, 
which nearly concealed the unshaded eye. 


" I have that idea, too." 

" That's all right, then. Everything seems quiet 
now, but those people are preparing some move of 
general repression. That's of course. But it isn't that 
1 came to tell you." He hitched his chair closer, 
dropped his voice. " You will be arrested before long 
— we fear." 

An obscure scribe in the Secretariat had overheard a 
few words of a certain conversation, and had caught a 
glimpse of a certain report. This intelligence was not 
to be neglected. 

Razumov laughed a little, and his visitor became very 

" Ah ! Kirylo Sidorovitch, this is no laughing 
matter. They have left you alone for a while, but . . . ! 
Indeed, you had better try to leave the country, Kirylo 
Sidorovitch, while there's yet time." 

Razumov jumped up and began to thank him for 
the advice with mocking effusiveness, so that the other, 
colouring up, took himself off with the notion that this 
mysterious Razumov was not a person to be warned or 
advised by inferior mortals. 

Councillor Mikulin, informed the next day of the inci- 
dent, expressed his satisfaction. " H'm. Ha ! Exactly 
what was wanted to . . ." and glanced down his beard. 

" I conclude," said Razumov, " that the moment has 
come for me to start on my mission." 

" The psychological moment," Councillor Mikulin 
insisted softly — very gravely — as if awed. 

All the arrangements to give verisimilitude to the 
appearance of a difficult escape were made. Councillor 
Mikulin did not expect to see Mr. Razumov again before 
his departure. These meetings were a risk, and there 
was nothing more to settle. 

" We have said everything to each other by now, 


Kirylo Sidorovitch," said the high official feelingly, 
pressing Razumov's hand with that unreserved heartiness 
a Russian can convey in his manner. " There is nothing 
obscure between us. And I will tell you what ! I con- 
sider myself fortunate in having — h'm — your . . ." 

He glanced down his beard, and, after a moment of 
thoughtful silence, handed to Razumov a half-sheet of 
notepaper — an abbreviated note of matters already 
discussed, certain points of inquiry, the line of conduct 
agreed on, a few hints as to personalities, and so on. 
It was the only compromising document in the case, 
but, as Councillor Mikulin observed, it could be easily 
destroyed. Mr. Razumov had better not see any one 
now — till on the other side of the frontier, when, of 
course, it will be just that . . . See and hear and . . ." 

He glanced down his beard ; but when Razumov 
declared his intention to see one person at least before 
leaving St. Petersburg, Councillor Mikulin failed to 
conceal a sudden uneasiness. The young man's studious, 
solitary, and austere existence was well known to him. 
It was the greatest guarantee of fitness. He became de- 
precatory. Had his dear Kirylo Sidorovitch considered 
whether, in view of such a momentous enterprise, it 
wasn't really advisable to sacrifice every sentiment . . ." 

Razumov interrupted the remonstrance scornfully. 
It was not a young woman, it was a young fool he 
wished to see for a certain purpose. Councillor Mikulin 
was relieved, but surprised. 

" Ah ! And what for — precisely ? " 

" For the sake of improving the aspect of verisimili- 
tude," said Razumov curtly, in a desire to affirm his 
independence. " I must be trusted in what I do." 

Councillor Mikulin gave way tactfully, murmuring, 
" Oh, certainly, certainly. Your judgment . . ." 

And with another handshake they parted. 


The fool of whom Mr. Razumov had thought was 
the rich and festive student known as madcap Kostia. 
Feather-headed, loquacious, excitable, one could make 
certain of his utter and complete indiscretion. But that 
riotous youth, when reminded by Razumov of his offers 
of service some time ago, passed from his usual elation 
into boundless dismay. 

" Oh, Kirylo Sidorovitch, my dearest friend — my 
saviour — what shall I do ? I've blown last night every 
rouble I had from my dad the other day. Can't you 
give me till Thursday ? I shall rush round to all the 
usurers I know . . . No, of course, you can't ! Don't 
look at me like that. What shall I do ? No use 
asking the old man. I tell you he's given me a fistful 
of big notes three days ago. Miserable wretch that 
I am." 

He wrung his hands in despair. Impossible to 
confide in the old man. " They " had given him a 
decoration, a cross on the neck only last year, and he 
had been cursing the modern tendencies ever since. Just 
then he would see all the intellectuals in Russia hanged 
in a row rather than part with a single rouble. 

" Kirylo Sidorovitch, wait a moment. Don't despise 
me. I have it. I'll, yes — I'll do it — I'll break into his 
desk. There's no help for it. I know the drawer where 
he keeps his plunder, and I can buy a chisel on my way 
home. He will be terribly upset, but, you know, the 
dear old duffer really loves me. He'll have to get over 
it — and I, too. Kirylo, my dear soul, if you can only 
wait for a few hours — till this evening — I shall steal all 
the blessed lot I can lay my hands on ! You doubt me ! 
Why ? You've only to say the word." 

" Steal, by all means," said Razumov, fixing him 

" To the devil with the ten commandments ! " cried 


the other, with the greatest animation. " It's the new 
future now." 

But when he entered Razumov's room late in the 
evening it was with an unaccustomed soberness of 
manner, almost solemnly. 

" It's done," he said. 

Razumov sitting bowed, his clasped hands hanging 
between his knees, shuddered at the familiar sound of 
these words. Kostia deposited slowly in the circle of 
lamplight a small brown-paper parcel tied with a piece 
of string. 

" As I've said — all I could lay my hands on. The 
old boy'll think the end of the world has come." 

Razumov nodded from the couch, and contemplated 
the hare-brained fellow's gravity with a feeling of 
malicious pleasure. 

" I've made my little sacrifice," sighed mad Kostia. 
" And I've to thank you, Kirylo Sidorovitch, for the 

" It has cost you something ? " 

" Yes, it has. You see, the dear old duffer really 
loves me. He'll be hurt." 

" And you believe all they tell you of the new future 
and the sacred will of the people ? " 

" Implicitly. I would give my life . . . Only, you 
see, I am like a pig at a trough. I am no good. It's 
my nature." 

Razumov, lost in thought, had forgotten his existence 
till the youth's voice, entreating him to fly without loss of 
time, roused him unpleasantly. 

" All right. Well — good-bye." 

" I am not going to leave you till I've seen you out of 
St. Petersburg," declared Kostia unexpectedly, with calm 
determination. " You can't refuse me that now. For 
God's sake, Kirylo, my soul, the police may be here any 


moment, and when they get you they'll immure you 
somewhere for ages — till your hair turns grey. I have 
down there the best trotter of dad's stables and a light 
sledge. We shall do thirty miles before the moon sets, 
and find some roadside station ..." 

Razumov looked up amazed. The journey was 
decided — unavoidable. He had fixed the next day for 
his departure on the mission. And now he discovered 
suddenly that he had not believed in it. He had gone 
about listening, speaking, thinking, planning his simulated 
flight, with the growing conviction that all this was 
preposterous. As if anybody ever did such things ! It 
was like a game of make-believe. And now he was 
amazed ! Here was somebody who believed in it with 
desperate earnestness. " If I don't go now, at once," 
thought Razumov, with a start of fear, " I shall never 
go." He rose without a word, and the anxious Kostia 
thrust his cap on him, helped him into his cloak, or else 
he would have left the room bareheaded as he stood. 
He was walking out silently when a sharp cry arrested 

" Kirylo ! " 

" What ? " He turned reluctantly in the doorway. 
Upright, with a stiffly extended arm, Kostia, his face 
set and white, was pointing an eloquent forefinger at the 
brown little packet lying forgotten in the circle of bright 
light on the table. Razumov hesitated, came back for 
it under the severe eyes of his companion, at whom he 
tried to smile. But the boyish, mad youth was frowning, 
" It's a dream," thought Razumov, putting the little 
parcel into his pocket and descending the stairs ; " nobody 
does such things." The other held him under the arm, 
whispering of dangers ahead, and of what he meant to 
do in certain contingencies. "Preposterous," murmured 
Razumov, as he was being tucked up in the sledge. He 


gave himself up to watching the development of the 
dream with extreme attention. It continued on foreseen 
lines, inexorably logical — the long drive, the wait at the 
small station sitting by a stove. They did not exchange 
half a dozen words altogether. Kostia, gloomy himself, 
did not care to break the silence. At parting they 
embraced twice — it had to be done ; and then Kostia 
vanished out of the dream. 

When dawn broke, Razumov, very still in a hot, 
stuffy railway-car full of bedding and of sleeping people 
in all its dimly lighted length, rose quietly, lowered the 
glass a few inches, and flung out on the great plain of 
snow a small brown-paper parcel. Then he sat down 
again muffled up and motionless. " For the people," he 
thought, staring out of the w^indow. The great white 
desert of frozen, hard earth glided past his eyes without 
a sign of human habitation. 

That had been a waking act ; and then the dream 
had him again : Prussia, Saxony, Wurtemberg, faces, 
sights, words — all a dream, observed with an angry, 
compelled attention. Zurich, Geneva — still a dream, 
minutely followed, wearing one into harsh laughter, to 
fury, to death — with the fear of awakening at the 
end. . . . 


" Perhaps life is just that," reflected Razumov, pacing 
to and fro under the trees of the little island, all alone 
with the bronze statue of Rousseau. " A dream and 
a fear." The dusk deepened. The pages written over 
and torn out of his notebook were the first-fruit of his 
" mission." No dream that. They contained the assur- 
ance that he was on the eve of real discoveries. " I think 


there is no longer anything in the way of my being 
completely accepted," 

He had resumed his impressions in those pages, 
some of the conversations. He even went so far as to 
write : " By the by, I have discovered the personality of 
that terrible N.N. A horrible, paunchy brute. If I 
hear anything of his future movements I shall send a 

The futility of all this overcame him like a curse. 
Even then he could not believe in the reality of his 
mission. He looked round despairingly, as if for some 
way to redeem his existence from that unconquerable 
feeling. He crushed angrily in his hand the pages of 
the notebook. " This must be posted," he thought. 

He gained the bridge and returned to the north 
shore, where he remembered having seen in one of the 
narrower streets a little obscure shop stocked with cheap 
wood carvings, its walls lined with extremely dirty card- 
board-bound volumes of a small circulating library. 
They sold stationery there, too. A morose, shabby old 
man dozed behind the counter. A thin woman in black, 
with a sickly face, produced the envelope he had asked 
for without even looking at him. Razumov thought 
that these people were safe to deal with because they no 
longer cared for anything in the world. He addressed 
the envelope on the counter with the German name of a 
certain person living in Vienna. But Razumov knew 
that this, his first communication for Councillor Mikulin, 
would find its way to the Embassy there, be copied in 
cypher by somebody trustworthy, and sent on to its 
destination, all safe, along with the diplomatic corre- 
spondence. That was the arrangement contrived to 
cover up the track of the information from all un- 
faithful eyes, from all indiscretions, from all mishaps and 
treacheries. It was to make him safe — absolutely safe. 


He wandered out of the wretched shop and made 
for the post office. It was then that I saw him for the 
second time that day. He was crossing the Rue Mont 
Blanc with every appearance of an aimless stroller. He 
did not recognize me, but I made him out at some 
distance. He was very good-looking, I thought, this 
remarkable friend of Miss Haldin's brother. I watched 
him go up to the letter-box and then retrace his 
steps. Again he passed me very close, but I am 
certain he did not see me that time, either. He carried 
his head well up, but he had the expression of a 
somnambulist struggling with the very dream which 
drives him forth to wander in dangerous places. My 
thoughts reverted to Natalia Haldin, to her mother. 
He was all that was left to them of their son and 

The westerner in me was discomposed. There was 
something shocking in the expression of that face. Had 
I been myself a conspirator, a Russian political refugee, 
I could have perhaps been able to draw some practical 
conclusion from this chance glimpse. As it was, it only 
discomposed me strongly, even to the extent of awaken- 
ing an indefinite apprehension in regard to Natalia 
Haldin. All this is rather inexplicable, but such was 
the origin of the purpose I formed there and then to 
call on these ladies in the evening, after my solitary 
dinner. It was true that I had met Miss Haldin only 
a few hours before, but Mrs. Haldin herself I had not 
seen for some considerable time. The truth is, I had 
shirked calling of late. 

Poor Mrs. Haldin ! I confess she frightened me a 
little. She was one of those natures, rare enough, 
luckily, in which one cannot help being interested, 
because they provoke both terror and pity. One 
dreads their contact for oneself, and still more for 


those one cares for, so clear it is that they are born 
to suffer and to make others suffer, too. It is strange 
to think that, I won't say Hberty, but the mere Hberalism 
of outlook which for us is a matter of words, of ambitions, 
of votes (and if of feeling at all, then of the sort of 
feeling which leaves our deepest affections untouched), 
may be for other beings very much like ourselves and 
living under the same sky, a heavy trial of fortitude, a 
matter of tears and anguish and blood. Mrs. Haldin 
had felt the pangs of her own generation. There was 
that enthusiast brother of hers — the officer they shot 
under Nicholas. A faintly ironic resignation is no 
armour for a vulnerable heart. Mrs. Haldin, struck at 
through her children, was bound to suffer afresh from 
the past, and to feel the anguish of the future. She was 
of those who do not know how to heal themselves, of 
those who are too much aware of their heart, who, 
neither cowardly nor selfish, look passionately at its 
wounds — and count the cost. 

Such thoughts as these seasoned my modest, lonely 
bachelor's meal. If anybody wishes to remark that this 
was a roundabout way of thinking of Natalia Haldin, I 
can only retort that she was well worth some concern. 
She had all her life before her. Let it be admitted, then, 
that I was thinking of Natalia Haldin's life in terms of 
her mother's character, a manner of thinking about a girl 
permissible for an old man, not too old yet to have 
become a stranger to pity. There was almost all her 
youth before her ; a youth robbed arbitrarily of its 
natural lightness and joy, overshadowed by an un- 
European despotism ; a terribly sombre youth given 
over to the hazards of a furious strife between equally 
ferocious antagonisms. 

I lingered over my thoughts more than I should 
have done. One felt so helpless, and even worse — so 


unrelated, in a way. At the last moment I hesitated as 
to going there at all. What was the good ? 

The evening was already advanced when, turning 
into the Boulevard des Philosophes, I saw the light 
in the window at the corner. The blind was down, 
but I could imagine behind it Mrs. Haldin seated in 
the chair, in her usual attitude, looking out for some 
one, which had lately acquired the poignant quality of 
mad expectation. 

I thought that I was sufficiently authorized by the 
light to knock at the door. The ladies had not retired 
as yet. I only hoped they would not have any visitors 
of their own nationality. A broken-down, retired 
Russian official was to be found there sometimes in the 
evening. He was infinitely forlorn and wearisome by 
his mere dismal presence. I think these ladies tolerated 
his frequent visits because of an ancient friendship with 
Mr. Haldin, the father, or something of that sort. I 
made up my mind that if I found him prosing away 
there in his feeble voice I should remain but a very few 

The door surprised me by swinging open before I 
could ring the bell. I was confronted by Miss Haldin, 
in hat and jacket, obviously on the point of going out. 
At that hour ! For the doctor, perhaps ? 

Her exclamation of welcome reassured me. It 
sounded as if I had been the very man she wanted to 
see. My curiosity was awakened. She drew me in, 
and the faithful Anna, the elderly German maid, closed 
the door, but did not go away afterwards. She remained 
near it as if in readiness to let me out presently. It 
appeared that Miss Haldin had been on the point of 
going out to find me. 

She spoke in a hurried manner very unusual with 
her. She would have gone straight and rung at Mrs. 


Ziegler's door, late as it was, for Mrs. Ziegler's 
habits . . . 

Mrs. Ziegler, the widow of a distinguished professor 
who was an intimate friend of mine, lets me have three 
rooms out of her very large and fine apartment, which 
she didn't give up after her husband's death ; but I have 
my own entrance opening on the same landing. It was 
an arrangement of at least ten years' standing. I said 
that I was very glad that I had the idea to . . . 

Miss Haldin made no motion to take off her outdoor 
things. I observed her heightened colour, something 
pronouncedly resolute in her tone. Did I know where 
Mr. Razumov lived ? 

Where Mr. Razumov lived? Mr, Razumov? At 
this hour — so urgently ? I threw my arms up in sign of 
utter ignorance. I had not the slightest idea where he 
lived. If I could have foreseen her question only three 
hours ago, I might have ventured to ask him on the 
pavement before the new post office building, and 
possibly he would have told me, but very possibly, too, 
he would have dismissed me rudely to mind my own 
business. And possibly, I thought, remembering that 
extraordinary hallucined, anguished, and absent expres- 
sion, he might have fallen down in a fit from the shock 
of being spoken to. I said nothing of all this to Miss 
Haldin, not even mentioning that I had a glimpse of the 
young man so recently. The impression had been so 
extremely unpleasant that I would have been glad to 
forget it myself 

" I don't see where I could make inquiries," I 
murmured helplessly. I would have been glad to be 
of use in any way, and would have set off to fetch any 
man, young or old, for I had the greatest confidence in 
her common sense. " What made you think of coming 
to me for that information ? " I asked. 


" It wasn't exactly for that," she said, in a low voice. 
She had the air of some one confronted by an unpleasant 

" Am I to understand that you must communicate 
with Mr. Razumov this evening ? " 

Natalia Haldin moved her head affirmatively ; then, 
after a glance at the door of the drawing-room, said in 
French — 

" C'est niaman" and remained perplexed for a moment. 
Always serious, not a girl to be put out by any imaginary 
difficulties, my curiosity was suspended on her lips, which 
remained closed for a moment. What was Mr. Razumov's 
connexion with this mention of her mother ? Mrs. 
Haldin had not been informed of her son's friend's arrival 
in Geneva. 

" May I hope to see your mother this evening ? " I 

Miss Haldin extended her hand as if to bar the way. 

" She is in a terrible state of agitation. Oh, you 
would not be able to detect. . . . It's inward, but I who 
know mother, I am appalled. I haven't the courage to 
face it any longer. It's all my fault ; I suppose I cannot 
play a part; I've never before hidden anything from 
mother. There has never been an occasion for anything 
of that sort between us. But you know yourself the 
reason why I refrained from telling her at once of Mr. 
Razumov's arrival here. You understand, don't you ? 

Owing to her unhappy state. And — there I am 

no actress. My own feelings being strongly engaged, I 
somehow ... I don't know. She noticed something in 
my manner. She thought I was concealing something 
from her. She noticed my longer absences, and, in fact, 
as I have been meeting Mr. Razumov daily, I used to 
stay away longer than usual when I went out. Goodness 
knows what suspicions arose in her mind. You know 


that she has not been herself ever since. ... So this 
evening she — who has been so awfully silent for weeks — 
began to talk all at once. She said that she did not 
want to reproach me ; that I had my character as she 
had her own ; that she did not want to pry into my 
affairs or even into my thoughts ; for her part, she had 
never had anything to conceal from her children . . . 
cruel things to listen to. And all this in her quiet voice, 
with that poor, wasted face as calm as a stone. It was 

Miss Haldin talked in an undertone and more rapidly 
than I had ever heard her speak before. That in itself 
was disturbing. The ante-room being strongly lighted, 
I could see under the veil the heightened colour of her 
face. She stood erect, her left hand was resting lightly 
on a small table. The other hung by her side with- 
out stirring. Now and then she caught her breath 
^ slightly. 

" It was too startling. Just fancy ! She thought 
that I was making preparations to leave her without 
saying anything. I knelt by the side of her chair and 
entreated her to think of what she was saying ! She 
put her hand on my head, but she persists in her delusion 
all the same. She had always thought that she was 
worthy of her children's confidence, but apparently it 
was not so. Her son could not trust her love nor yet her 
understanding — and now I was planning to abandon her 
in the same cruel and unjust manner, and so on, and so 
on. Nothing I could say. ... It is morbid obstinacy. 
. . . She said that she felt there was something, some 
change in me. ... If my convictions were calling me 
away, why this secrecy, as though she had been a coward 
or a weakling not safe to trust? ' As if my heart could 
play traitor to my children,' she said. ... It was hardly 
to be borne. And she was smoothing my head all the 


time. ... It was perfectly useless to protest. She is 
ill. Her very soul is . . ." 

I did not venture to break the silence which fell 
between us. 1 looked into her eyes, glistening through 
the veil. 

" I ! Changed ! " she exclaimed in the same low 
tone. " My convictions calling me away ! It was cruel 
to hear this, because my trouble is that I am weak and 
cannot see what I ought to do. You know that. And 
to end it all I did a selfish thing. To remove her 
suspicions of myself I told her of Mr. Razumov. It was 
selfish of me. You know we were completely right in 
agreeing to keep the knowledge away from her. Perfectly 
right. Directly I told her of our poor Victor's friend 
being here I saw how right we have been. She ought 
to have been prepared ; but in my distress I just blurted 
it out. Mother got terribly excited at once. How long 
has he been here ? What did he know, and why did he 
not come to see us at once, this friend of her Victor? 
What did that mean ? Was she not to be trusted even 
with such memories as there were left of her son ? . . . 
Just think how I felt seeing her, white like a sheet, 
perfectly motionless, with her thin hands gripping the 
arms of the chair. I told her it was all my fault." 

I could imagine the motionless dumb figure of the 
mother in her chair, there, behind the door, near which 
the daughter was talking to me. The silence in there 
seemed to call aloud for vengeance against an historical 
fact and the modern instances of its working. That view 
flashed through my mind, but I could not doubt that 
Miss Haldin had had an atrocious time of it. I quite 
understood when she said that she could not face the 
night upon the impression of that scene. Mrs. Haldin 
had given way to most awful imaginings, to most fantastic 
and cruel suspicions. All this had to be lulled at all 


costs and without loss of time. It was no shock to me 
to learn that Miss Haldin had said to her, " I will go 
and bring him here at once." There was nothing absurd 
in that cry, no exaggeration of sentiment. I was not 
even doubtful in my " Very well, but how ? " 

It was perfectly right that she should think of me, 
but what could 1 do in my ignorance of Mr. Razumov's 

" And to think he may be living near by, within a 
stone's-throw, perhaps ! " she exclaimed. 

I doubted it ; but I would have gone off cheerfully 
to fetch him from the other end of Geneva. I suppose 
she was certain of my readiness, since her first thought 
was to come to me. But the service she meant to ask 
of me really was to accompany her to the Chateau Borel. 

I had an unpleasant mental vision of the dark road, 
of the sombre grounds, and the desolately suspicious 
aspect of that home of necromancy and intrigue and 

feminist adoration. I objected that Madame de S 

most likely would know nothing of what we wanted to find 
out. Neither did I think it likely that the young man 
would be found there. I remembered my glimpse of his 
face, and somehow gained the conviction that a man 
who looked worse than if he had seen the dead would 
want to shut himself up somewhere where he could be 
alone. I felt a strange certitude that Mr. Razumov was 
going home when I saw him. 

" It is really of Peter Ivanovitch that I was thinking," 
said Miss Haldin quietly. 

Ah ! He, of course, would know. I looked at my 
watch. It was twenty minutes past nine only. . . . 

" I would try his hotel, then," I advised. " He has 
rooms at the Cosmopolitan, somewhere on the top floor." 

I did not offer to go by myself, simply from mistrust 


of the reception I should meet with. But I suggested 
the faithful Anna, with a note asking for the in- 

Anna was still waiting by the door at the other end 
of the room, and we two discussed the matter in whispers. 
Miss Haldin thought she must go herself. Anna was 
timid and slow. Time would be lost in bringing back 
the answer, and from that point of view it was getting 
late, for it was by no means certain that Mr. Razumov 
lived near by. 

" If I go myself," Miss Haldin argued, " I can go 
straight to him from the hotel. And in any case I 
should have to go out, because I must explain to Mr. 
Razumov personally — prepare him in a way. You have 
no idea of mother's state of mind." 

Her colour came and went. She even thought that 
both for her mother's sake and for her own it was better 
that they should not be together for a little time. Anna, 
whom her mother liked, would be at hand. 

" She could take her sewing into the room," Miss 
Haldin continued, leading the way to the door. Then, 
addressing in German the maid who opened it before us, 
" You may tell my mother that this gentleman called 
and is gone with me to find Mr. Razumov. She must 
not be uneasy if I am away for some length of time." 

We passed out quickly into the street, and she took 
deep breaths of the cool night air. " I did not even ask 
you," she murmured. 

" I should think not," I said, with a laugh. The 
manner of my reception by the great feminist could not 
be considered now. That he would be annoyed to see 
me, and probably treat me to some solemn insolence, I 
had no doubt, but I supposed that he would not absolutely 
dare to throw me out. And that was all I cared for. 
" Won't you take my arm ? " 1 asked. 


She did so in silence, and neither of us said anything 
worth recording till I let her go first into the great hall 
of the hotel. It was brilliantly lighted, and with a good 
many people lounging about. 

" I could very well go up there without you," I 

" I don't like to be left waiting in this place," she 
said in a low voice. " I will come too." 

I led her straight to the lift then. At the top floor 
the attendant directed us to the right : " End of the 

The walls were white, the carpet red, electric lights 
blazed in profusion, and the emptiness, the silence, the 
closed doors all alike and numbered, made me think of 
the perfect order of some severely luxurious model 
penitentiary on the solitary confinement principle. Up 
there under the roof of that enormous pile for housing 
travellers no sound of any kind reached us, the thick 
crimson felt muffled our footsteps completely. We 
hastened on, not looking at each other till we found our- 
selves before the very last door of that long passage. 
Then our eyes met, and we stood thus for a moment 
lending ear to a faint murmur of voices inside. 

" I suppose this is it," I whispered unnecessarily. I 
saw Miss Haldin's lips move without a sound, and after 
my sharp knock the murmur of voices inside ceased. A 
profound stillness lasted for a few seconds, and then the 
door was brusquely opened by a short, black-eyed woman 
in a red blouse, with a great lot of nearly white hair, done 
up negligently in an untidy and unpicturesque manner. 
Her thin, jetty eyebrows were drawn together. I learned 
afterwards with interest that she was the famous — or the 
notorious — Sophia Antonovna, but I was struck then by 
the quaint Mephistophelian character of her inquiring 
glance, because it was so curiously evil-less, so — I may 


say — un-devilish. It got softened still more as she 
looked up at Miss Haldin, who stated, in her rich, 
even voice, her wish to see Peter Ivanovitch for a 

" I am Miss Haldin," she added. 

At this, with her brow completely smoothed out now, 
but without a word in answer, the woman in the red 
blouse walked away to a sofa and sat down, leaving the 
door wide open. 

And from the sofa, her hands lying on her lap, she 
watched us enter, with her black, glittering eyes. 

Miss Haldin advanced into the middle of the room ; 
I, faithful to my part of mere attendant, remained by the 
door after closing it behind me. The room, quite a 
large one, but with a low ceiling, was scantily furnished, 
and an electric bulb with a porcelain shade pulled low 
down over a big table (with a very large map spread on 
it) left its distant parts in a dim, artificial twilight. Peter 
Ivanovitch was not to be seen, neither was Mr. Razumov 
present. But, on the sofa, near Sophia Antonovna, a 
bony-faced man with a goatee beard leaned forward with 
his hands on his knees, staring hard with a kindly expres- 
sion. In a remote corner a broad, pale face and a bulky 
shape could be made out, uncouth, and as if insecure 
on the low seat on which it rested. The only person 
known to me was little Julius Laspara, who seemed 
to have been poring over the map, his feet twined 
tightly round the chair-legs. He got down briskly and 
bowed to Miss Haldin, looking absurdly like a hook- 
nosed boy with a beautiful false pepper-and-salt beard. 
He advanced, offering his seat, which Miss Haldin 
declined. She had only come in for a moment to say a 
few words to Peter Ivanovitch. 

His high-pitched voice became painfully audible in 
the room. 


" Strangely enough, I was thinking of you this very 
afternoon, Natalia Victorovna. I met Mr. Razumov. 
I asked him to write me an article on anything he liked. 
You could translate it into English — with such a teacher." 

He nodded complimentarily in my direction. At the 
name of Razumov an indescribable sound, a sort of feeble 
squeak, as of some angry small animal, was heard in the 
corner occupied by the man who seemed much too large 
for the chair on which he sat. I did not hear what Miss 
Haldin said. Laspara spoke again. 

" It's time to do something, Natalia Victorovna. But 
I suppose you have your own ideas. Why not write 
something yourself? Suppose you came to see us soon ? 
We could talk it over. Any advice . . ." 

Again I did not catch Miss Haldin's words. It was 
Laspara's voice once more. 

" Peter Ivanovitch ? He's retired for a moment into 
the other room. We are all waiting for him." 

The great man, entering at that moment, looked 
bigger, taller, quite imposing in a long dressing-gown of 
some dark stuff. It descended in straight lines dov/n to 
his feet. He suggested a monk or a prophet, a robust 
figure of some desert-dweller — something Asiatic ; and 
the dark glasses in conjunction with this costume made 
him more mysterious than ever in the subdued light. 

Little Laspara went back to his chair to look at the 
map, the only brilliantly lit object in the room. Even 
from my distant position by the door I could make 
out, by the shape of the blue part representing the 
water, that it was a map of the Baltic provinces. Peter 
Ivanovitch exclaimed slightly, advancing towards Miss 
Haldin, checked himself on perceiving me, very vaguely 
no doubt, and peered with his dark, bespectacled stare. 
He must have recognized me by my grey hair, because, 
with a marked shrug of his broad shoulders, he turned 


to Miss Haldin in benevolent indulgence. He seized her 
hand in his thick cushioned palm, and put his other big 
paw over it like a lid. 

While those two standing in the middle of the floor 
were exchanging a few inaudible phrases no one else 
moved in the room : Laspara, with his back to us, 
kneeling on the chair, his elbows propped on the big-scale 
map, the shadowy enormity in the corner, the frankly 
staring man with the goatee on the sofa, the woman in 
the red blouse by his side — not one of them stirred. I 
suppose that really they had no time, for Miss Haldin 
withdrew her hand immediately from Peter Ivanovitch 
and before I was ready for her was moving to the door. 
A disregarded Westerner, I threw it open hurriedly 
and followed her out, my last glance leaving them all 
motionless in their varied poses : Peter Ivanovitch alone 
standing up, with his dark glasses like an enormous blind 
teacher, and behind him the vivid patch of light on the 
coloured map, pored over by the diminutive Laspara. 

Later on, much later on, at the time of the newspaper 
rumours (they were vague and soon died out) of an 
abortive military conspiracy in Russia, I remembered 
the glimpse I had of that motionless group with its 
central figure. No details ever came out, but it was 
known that the revolutionary parties abroad had given 
their assistance, had sent emissaries in advance, that 
even money was found to dispatch a steamer with a 
cargo of arms and conspirators to invade the Baltic 
provinces. And while my eyes scanned the imperfect 
disclosures (in which the world was not much interested) 
I thought that the old, settled Europe had been given in 
my person attending that Russian girl something like a 
glimpse behind the scenes. A short, strange glimpse on 
the top floor of a great hotel of all places in the world : 
the great man himself; the motionless great bulk in the 


corner of the slayer of spies and gendarmes ; Yakovlitch, 
the veteran of ancient terrorist campaigns ; the woman, 
with her hair as white as mine and the lively black eyes, 
all in a mysterious half-light, with the strongly lighted 
map of Russia on the table. The woman I had the 
opportunity to see again. As we were waiting for the 
lift she came hurrying along the corridor, with her eyes 
fastened on Miss Haldin's face, and drew her aside as if 
for a confidential communication. It was not long. A 
few words only. 

Going down in the lift, Natalia Haldin did not break 
the silence. It was only when out of the hotel and as 
we moved along the quay in the fresh darkness spangled 
by the quay lights, reflected in the black water of the 
little port on our left hand, and with lofty piles of hotels 
on our right, that she spoke. 

" That was Sophia Antonovna — you know the 
woman ? . . ." 

" Yes, I know — the famous . . ." 

" The same. It appears that after we went out Peter 
Ivanovitch told them why I had come. That was the 
reason she ran out after us. She named herself to me, 
and then she said, ' You are the sister of a brave man 
who shall be remembered. You may see better times.' 
I told her I hoped to see the time when all this would 
be forgotten, even if the name of my brother were to be 
forgotten too. Something moved me to say that, but 
you understand ? " 

" Yes," I said. " You think of the era of concord 
and justice." 

" Yes. There is too much hate and revenge in that 
work. It must be done. It is a sacrifice — and so let 
it be all the greater. Destruction is the work of anger. 
Let the tyrants and the slayers be forgotten together, and 
only the reconstructors be remembered." 


"And did Sophia Antonovna agree with you?" I 
asked sceptically. 

"She did not say anything except, ' It is good for 
you to believe in love.' I should think she understood 
me. Then she asked me if I hoped to see Mr. Razumov 
presently. I said I trusted I could manage to bring him 
to see my mother this evening, as my mother had learned 
of his being here and was morbidly impatient to learn 
if he could tell us something of Victor. He was the 
only friend of my brother we knew of, and a great 
intimate. She said, * Oh ! Your brother — yes. Please 
tell Mr. Razumov that I have made public the story 
which came to me from St. Petersburg. It concerns 
your brother's arrest,' she added. ' He was betrayed by 
a man of the people who has since hanged himself. Mr. 
Razumov will explain it all to you. I gave him the full 
information this afternoon. And please tell Mr. Razumov 
that Sophia Antonovna sends him her greetings. I am 
going away early in the morning — far away.' " 

And Miss Haldin added, after a moment of silence — 
" I was so mov^ed by what I heard so unexpectedly 
that I simply could not speak to you before. ... A man 
of the people 1 Oh, our poor people ! " 

She walked slowly, as if tired out suddenly. Her head 
drooped ; from the windows of a building with terraces 
and balconies came the banal sound of hotel music ; 
before the low mean portals of the Casino two red posters 
blazed under the electric lamps, with a cheap provincial 
effect. — and the emptiness of the quays, the desert 
aspect of the streets, had an air of hypocritical respecta- 
bility and of inexpressible dreariness. 

I had taken for granted she had obtained the address, 
and let myself be guided by her. On the Mont Blanc 
bridge, where a few dark figures seemed lost in the wide 
and long perspective defined by the lights, she said — 


" It isn't very far from our house. I somehow thought 
it couldn't be. The address is Rue de Carouge. I 
think it must be one of those big new houses for 

She took my arm confidingly, familiarly, and ac- 
celerated her pace. There was something primitive in 
our proceedings. We did not think of the resources 
of civilization. A late tramcar overtook us ; a row of 
fiacres stood by the railing of the gardens. It never 
entered our heads to make use of these conveyances 
She was too hurried, perhaps, and as to myself — well, 
she had taken my arm confidingly. As we were ascend- 
ing the easy incline of the Corraterie, all the shops 
shuttered and no light in any of the windows (as if all 
the mercenary population had fled at the end of the 
day), she said tentativ'ely' — 

" I could run in for a moment to have a look at 
mother. It would not be much out of the way." 

I dissuaded her. If Mrs. Haldin really expected to 
see Razumov that night it would have been unwise to 
show herself without him. The sooner we got hold of 
the young man and brought him along to calm her 
mother's agitation the better. She assented to my 
reasoning, and we crossed diagonally the Place de 
Theatre, bluish grey with its floor of slabs of stone, under 
the electric light, and the lonely equestrian statue all 
black in the middle. In the Rue de Carouge we were 
in the poorer quarters and approaching the outskirts of 
the town. Vacant building plots alternated with high, 
new houses. At the corner of a side street the crude 
light of a whitewashed shop fell into the night, fan-like, 
through a wide doorway. One could see from a dis- 
tance the inner wall with its scantily furnished shelves, 
and the deal counter painted brown. That was the 
house. Approaching it along the dark stretch of a 


fence of tarred planks, we saw the narrow pallid face 
of the cut angle, five single windows high, without a 
gleam in them, and crowned by the heavy shadow of 
a jutting roof slope, 

" We must inquire in the shop," Miss Haldin directed 

A sallow, thinly whiskered man, wearing a dingy 
white collar and a frayed tie, laid down a newspaper, 
and, leaning familiarly on both elbows far over the bare 
counter, answered that the person I was inquiring for 
was indeed his locataire on the third floor, but that for 
the moment he was out. 

" For the moment," I repeated, after a glance at 
Miss Haldin. " Does this mean that you expect him 
back at once ? " 

He was very gentle, with ingratiating eyes and soft lips. 
He smiled faintly as though he knew all about everything. 
Mr. Razumov, after being absent all day, had returned 
early in the evening. He was very surprised about half 
an hour or a little more since to see him come down 
again. Mr. Razumov left his key, and in the course of 
some words which passed between them had remarked 
' that he was going out because he needed air. 

From behind the bare counter he went on smiling at 
us, his head held between his hands. Air. Air. But 
whether that meant a long or a short absence it was 
difficult to say. The night was very close, certainly. 

After a pause, his ingratiating eyes turned to the 
door, he added — 

" The storm shall drive him in." 

" There's going to be a storm ? " I asked. 

" Why, yes ! " 

As if to confirm his words we heard a very distant, 
deep rumbling noise. 

Consulting Miss Haldin by a glance, I saw her so 


reluctant to give up her quest that I asked the shop- 
keeper, in case Mr. Razumov came home within half an 
hour, to beg him to remain downstairs in the shop. We 
would look in again presently. 

For all answer he moved his head imperceptibly. 
The approval of Miss Haldin was expressed by her 
silence. We walked slowly down the street, away from 
the town ; the low garden walls of the modest villas 
doomed to demolition were overhung by the boughs of 
trees and masses of foliage, lighted from below by gas 
lamps. The violent and monotonous noise of the icy 
waters of the Arve falling over a low dam swept towards 
us with a chilly draught of air across a great open 
space, where a double line of lamp-lights outlined a 
street as yet without houses. But on the other shore, 
overhung by the awful blackness of the thunder-cloud, 
a solitary dim light seemed to watch us with a weary 
stare. When we had strolled as far as the bridge, I 
said — 

" We had better get back. ..." 

In the shop the sickly man was studying his 
smudgy newspaper, now spread out largely on the 
counter. He just raised his head when I looked in and 
shook it negatively, pursing up his lips. I rejoined 
Miss Haldin outside at, once, and we moved off at a 
brisk pace. She remarked that she would send Anna 
with a note the first thing in the morning. I respected 
her taciturnity, silence being perhaps the best way to 
show my concern. 

The semi-rural street we followed on our return 
changed gradually to the usual town thoroughfare, broad 
and deserted. We did not meet four people altogether, 
and the way seemed interminable, because my com- 
panion's natural anxiety had communicated itself sym- 
pathetically to me. At last we turned into the Boulevard 


des Philosophes, more wide, more empty, more dead — 
the very desolation of slumbering respectability. At the 
sight of the two lighted windows, very conspicuous from 
afar, I had the mental vision of Mrs. Haldin in her arm- 
chair keeping a dreadful, tormenting vigil under the evil 
spell of an arbitrary rule : a victim of tyranny and 
revolution, a sight at once cruel and absurd. 


" You will come in for a moment ? " said Natalia 

I demurred on account of the late hour. " You 
know mother likes you so much," she insisted. 

" I will just come in to hear how your mother is." 

She said, as if to herself, " I don't even know 
whether she will believe that I could not find Mr. 
Razumov, since she has taken it into her head that I 
am concealing something from her. You may be able 
to persuade her. . . ." 

"Your mother may mistrust me too," I observed. 

" You ! Why ? What could you have to conceal 
from her? You are not a Russian nor a conspirator." 

I felt profoundly my European remoteness, and said 
nothing, but I made up my mind to play my part of help- 
less spectator to the end. The distant rolling of thunder 
in the valley of the Rhone was coming nearer to the 
sleeping town of prosaic virtues and universal hospitality. 
We crossed the street opposite the great dark gateway, 
and Miss Haldin rang at the door of the apartment. It 
was opened almost instantly, as if the elderly maid had 
been waiting in the ante-room for our return. Her flat 
physiognomy had an air of satisfaction. The gentleman 
was there, she declared, while closing the door. 


Neither of us understood. Miss Haldin turned 
round brusquely to her. " Who ? " 

" Herr Razumov," she explained. 

She had heard enough of our conversation before we 
left to know why her young mistress was going out. 
Therefore, when the gentleman gave his name at the 
door, she admitted him at once. 

" No one could have foreseen that," Miss Haldin 
murmured, with her serious grey eyes fixed upon mine. 
And, remembering the expression of the young man's 
face seen not much more than four hours ago, the look 
of a haunted somnambulist, I wondered with a sort 
of awe. 

"You asked my mother first?" Miss Haldin inquired 
of the maid. 

" No. I announced the gentleman," she answered, 
surprised at our troubled faces. 

" Still," I said in an undertone, " your mother was 

" Yes. But he has no idea . . ." 

It seemed to me she doubted his tact. To her 
question how long the gentleman had been with her 
mother, the maid told us that Der Herr had been in 
the drawing-room no more than a short quarter of an 

She waited a moment, then withdrew, looking a 
little scared. Miss Haldin gazed at me in silence. 

" As things have turned out," I said, " you happen to 
know exactly what your brother's friend has to tell your 
mother. And surely after that . . ." 

" Yes," said Natalia Haldin slowly. " I only wonder, 
as I was not here when he came, if it wouldn't be better 
not to interrupt now." 

We remained silent, and I suppose we both strained 
our ears, but no sound reached us through the closed 


door. The features of Miss Haldin expressed a painful 
irresolution ; she made a movement as if to go in, but 
checked herself She had heard footsteps on the other 
side of the door. It came open, and Razumov, without 
pausing, stepped out into the ante-room. The fatigue 
of that day and the struggle with himself had changed 
him so much that I would have hesitated to recog- 
nize that face which, only a few hours before, when 
he brushed against me in front of the post office, had 
been startling enough but quite different. It had been 
not so livid then, and its eyes not so sombre. They 
certainly looked more sane now, but there was upon 
them the shadow of something consciously evil. 

I speak of that, because, at first, their glance fell on 
me, though without any sort of recognition or even com- 
prehension. I was simply in the line of his stare. I 
don't know if he had heard the bell or expected to see 
anybody. He was going out, I believe, and I do not 
think that he saw Miss Haldin till she advanced towards 
him a step or two. He disregarded the hand she put 

" It's you, Natalia Victorovna. . . . Perhaps you are 
surprised ... at this late hour. But, you see, I re- 
membered our conversations in that garden. I thought 
really it was your wish that I should — without loss of 
time ... so I came. No other reason. Simply to 
tell . . ." 

He spoke with difficulty. I noticed that, and re- 
membered his declaration to the man in the shop that 
he was going out because he " needed air." If that was 
his object, then it was clear that he had miserably failed. 
With downcast eyes and lowered head he made an effort 
to pick up the strangled phrase. 

" To tell what I have heard myself only to-day — 
to-day . . ." 


Through the door he had not closed I had a view of 
the drawing-room. It was lighted only by a shaded 
lamp — Mrs. Haldin's eyes could not support either gas 
or electricity. It was a comparatively big room, and in 
contrast with the strongly lighted ante-room its length 
was lost in semi-transparent gloom backed by heavy 
shadows ; and on that ground I saw the motionless 
figure of Mrs. Haldin, inclined slightly forward, with a 
pale hand resting on the arm of the chair. 

She did not move. With the window before her 
she had no longer that attitude suggesting expectation. 
The blind was down ; and outside there was only the 
night sky harbouring a thunder-cloud, and the town 
indifferent and hospitable in its cold, almost scornful, 
toleration — a respectable town of refuge to which all 
these sorrows and hopes were nothing. Her white head 
was bowed. 

The thought that the real drama of autocracy is not 
played on the great stage of politics came to me as, 
fated to be a spectator, I had this other glimpse behind 
the scenes, something more profound than the words 
and gestures of the public play. I had the certitude 
that this mother, refused in her heart to give her son 
up after all. It was more than Rachel's inconsolable 
mourning, it was something deeper, more inaccessible in 
its frightful tranquillity. Lost in the ill-defined mass of 
the high-backed chair, her white, inclined profile sug- 
gested the contemplation of something in her lap, as 
though a beloved head were resting there. 

I had this glimpse behind the scenes, and then Miss 
Haldin, passing by the young man, shut the door. It 
was not done without hesitation. For a moment I 
thought that she would go to her mother, but she sent 
in only an anxious glance. Perhaps if Mrs. Haldin had 
moved . . . but no. There was in the immobility of 


that bloodless face the dreadful aloofness of suffering 
without remedy. 

Meantime the young man kept his eyes fixed on the 
floor. The thought that he would have to repeat the 
story he had told already was intolerable to him. He 
had expected to find the two women together. And 
then, he had said to himself, it would be over for all 
time — for all time. "It's lucky I don't believe in 
another world," he had thought cynically. 

Alone in his room after having posted his secret 
letter, he had regained a certain measure of composure 
by writing in his secret diary. He was aware of the 
danger of that strange self-indulgence. He alludes to it 
himself, but he could not refrain. It calmed him — it 
reconciled him to his existence. He sat there scribbling 
by the light of a solitary candle, till it occurred to him 
that having heard the explanation of Haldin's arrest, 
as put forward by Sophia Antonovna, it behoved him 
to tell these ladies himself. They were certain to 
hear the tale through some other channel, and then his 
abstention would look strange, not only to the mother 
and sister of Haldin, but to other people also. Having 
come to this conclusion, he did not discover in himself 
any marked reluctance to face the necessity, and very 
soon an anxiety to be done with it began to torment 
him. He looked at his watch. No ; it was not 
absolutely too late. 

The fifteen minutes with Mrs. Haldin were like the 
revenge of the unknown : that white face, that weak, 
distinct voice ; that head, at first turned to him eagerly, 
then, after a while, bowed again and motionless — in the 
dim, still light of the room in which his words which he 
tried to subdue resounded so loudly — had troubled him 
like some strange discovery. And there seemed to be a 
secret obstinacy in that sorrow, something he could not 


understand ; at any rate, something he had not expected. 
Was it hostile? But it did not matter. Nothing could 
touch him now ; in the eyes of the revolutionists there 
was now no shadow on his past. The phantom of 
Haldin had been indeed walked over, was left behind 
lying powerless and passive on the pavement covered 
with snow. And this was the phantom's mother con- 
sumed with grief and white as a ghost. He had felt a 
pitying surprise. But that, of course, was of no im- 
portance. Mothers did not matter. He could not 
shake off the poignant impression of that silent, quiet, 
white-haired woman, but a sort of sternness crept into 
his thoughts. These were the consequences. Well, 
what of it? " Am I then on a bed of roses?" he had 
exclaimed to himself, sitting at some distance with his 
eyes fixed upon that figure of sorrow. He had said all 
he had to say to her, and when he had finished she had 
not uttered a word. She had turned away her head 
while he was speaking. The silence which had fallen on 
his last words had lasted for five minutes or more. 
What did it mean ? Before its incomprehensible char- 
acter he became conscious of anger in his stern mood, 
the old anger against Haldin reawakened by the con- 
templation of Haldin's mother. And was it not some- 
thing like enviousness whicih grpped his heart, as if of a 
privilege denied to him alone of all the men that had 
ever passed through this world ? It was the other who 
had attained to repose and yet continued to exist in the 
affection of that mourning old woman, in the thoughts of 
all these people posing for lovers of humanity. It was 
impossible to get rid of him. " It's myself whom I have 
given up to destruction," thought Razumov. " He has 
induced me to do it. I can't shake him off." 

Alarmed by that discovery, he got up and strode out 
of the silent, dim room with its silent old woman in the 


chair, that mother ! He never looked back. It was 
frankly a flight. But on opening the door he saw his 
retreat cut off. There was the sister. He had never 
forgotten the sister, only he had not expected to see her 
then — or ever any more, perhaps. Her presence in 
the ante-room was as unforeseen as the apparition of 
her brother had been. Razumov gave a start as though 
he had discovered himself cleverly trapped. He tried 
to smile, but could not manage it, and lowered his 
eyes. " Must I repeat that silly story now ? " he 
asked himself, and felt a sinking sensation. Nothing 
solid had passed his lips since the day before, but he 
was not in a state to analyse the origins of his 
weakness. He meant to take up his hat and depart 
with as few words as possible, but Miss Haldin's swift 
movement to shut the door took him by surprise. He 
half turned after her, but without raising his eyes, passively, 
just as a feather might stir in the disturbed air. The 
next moment she was back in the place she had started 
from, with another half-turn on his part, so that they 
came again into the same relative positions. 

" Yes, yes," she said hurriedly. " I am very grateful 
to you, Kirylo Sidorovitch, for coming at once — like 
this. . . . Only, I wish I had . . . Did mother tell 
you ? " 

" I wonder what she could have told me that I did 
not know before," he said, obviously to himself, but 
perfectly audible. " Because I always did know it," he 
added louder, as if in despair. 

He hung his head. He had such a strong sense 
of Natalia Haldin's presence that to look at her he felt 
would be a relief. It was she who had been haunting 
him now. He had suffered that persecution ever since 
she had suddenly appeared before him in the garden of 
the Villa Borel with an extended hand and the name of 


her brother on her lips. . . . The ante-room had a row 
of hooks on the wall nearest to the outer door, while 
against the wall opposite there stood a small dark table 
and one chair. The paper, bearing a very faint design, 
was all but white. The light of an electric bulb high up 
under the ceiling searched that clear square box into its 
four bare corners, crudely, without shadows — a strange 
stage for an obscure drama. 

" What do you mean ? " asked Miss Haldin. " What 
is it that you knew always ? " 

He raised his face, pale, full of unexpressed suffering. 
But that look in his eyes of dull, absent obstinacy, 
which struck and surprised everybody he was talking 
to, began to pass away. It was as though he were 
coming to himself in the awakened consciousness of that 
marvellous harmony of feature, of lines, of glances, of 
voice, which made of the girl before him a being so 
rare, outside, and, as it were, above the common notion 
of beauty. He looked at her so long that she coloured 

" What is it that you knew ? " she repeated vaguely. 
That time he managed to smile. 

" Indeed, if it had not been for a word of greeting or 
two, I would doubt whether your mother was aware at all 
of my existence. You understand ? " 

Natalia Haldin nodded ; her hands moved slightly 
by her side. 

"Yes. Is it not heart-breaking? She has not shed 
a tear yet — not a single tear." 

"Not a tear! And you, Natalia Victorovna? You 
have been able to cry ? " 

" I have. And then I am young enough, Kirylo 
Sidorovitch, to believe in the future. But when I see 
my mother so terribly distracted, I almost forget every- 
thing. I ask myself whether one should feel proud — or 


only resigned. We had such a lot of people coming to 
see us. There were utter strangers who wrote asking 
for permission to call to present their respects. It was 
impossible to keep our door shut for ever. You know that 
Peter Ivanovitch himself ... Oh yes, there was much 
sympathy, but there were persons who exulted openly at 
that death. Then, when I was left alone with poor 
mother, all this seemed so wrong in spirit, something not 
worth the price she is paying for it. But directly I 
heard you were here in Geneva, Kirylo Sidorovitch, I felt 
that you were the only person who could assist me . . ." 

" In comforting a bereaved mother ? Yes ! " he 
broke in in a manner which made her open her clear 
unsuspecting eyes. " But there is a question of fitness. 
Has this occurred to you ? " 

There was a breathlessness in his utterance which 
contrasted with the monstrous hint of mockery in his 

" Why ! " whispered Natalia Haldin with feeling. 
" Who more fit than you ? " 

He had a convulsive movement of exasperation, but 
controlled himself. 

" Indeed ! Directly you heard that I was in Geneva, 
before even seeing me ? It is another proof of that con- 
fidence which . . ." 

All at once his tone changed, became more incisive 
and more detached. 

" Men are poor creatures, Natalia Victorovna. They 
have no intuition of sentiment. In order to speak 
fittingly to a mother of her lost son one must have had 
some experience of the filial relation. It is not the case 
with me — if you must know the whole truth. Your 
hopes have to deal here with ' a breast unwarmed by any 
affection,' as the poet says. . . . That does not mean it 
is insensible," he added in a lower tone. 


" I am certain your heart is not unfeeling," said Miss 
Haldin softly. 

" No. It is not as hard as a stone," he went on in 
the same introspective voice, and looking as if his heart 
were lying as heavy as a stone in that unwarmed breast 
of which he spoke. " No, not so hard. But how to 
prove what you give me credit for — ah ! that's another 
question. No one has ever expected such a thing from 
me before. No one whom my tenderness would have 
been of any use to. And now you come. You ! Now ! 
No, Natalia Victorovna. It's too late. You come too 
late. You must expect nothing from me." 

She recoiled from him a little, though he had made 
no movement, as if she had seen some change in 
his face, charging his words with the significance of 
some hidden sentiment they shared together. To me, 
the silent spectator, they looked like two people be- 
coming conscious of a spell which had been lying on 
them ever since they first set eyes on each other. 
Had either of them cast a glance then in my direction, 
I would have opened the door quietly and gone out. 
But neither did ; and I remained, every fear of in- 
discretion lost in the sense of my enormous remoteness 
from their captivity within the sombre horizon of 
Russian problems, the boundary of their eyes, of their 
feelings — the prison of their souls. 

Frank, courageous, Miss Haldin controlled her voice 
in the midst of her trouble. 

" What can this mean ? " she asked, as if speaking to 

" It may mean that you have given yourself up to 
vain imaginings while I have managed to remain amongst 
the truth of things and the realities of life — our Russian 
life — such as they are." 

" They are cruel," she murmured. 


" And ugly. Don't forget that — and ugly. Look 
where you like. Look near you, here abroad where you 
are, and then look back at home, whence you came." 

" One must look beyond the present." Her tone 
had an ardent conviction. 

" The blind can do that best. I have had the mis- 
fortune to be born clear-eyed. And if you only knew 
what strange things I have seen ! What amazing 
and unexpected apparitions ! . . . But why talk of all 
this ? " 

" On the contrary, I want to talk of all this with 
you," she protested with earnest serenity. The sombre 
humours of her brother's friend left her unaffected, as 
though that bitterness, that suppressed anger, were the 
signs of an indignant rectitude. She saw that he was 
not an ordinary person, and perhaps she did not 
want him to be other than he appeared to her trustful 
eyes. "Yes, with you especially," she insisted. "With 
you of all the Russian people in the world. ..." A 
faint smile dwelt for a moment on her lips. " I am like 
poor mother in a way. I too seem unable to give up 
our beloved dead, who, don't forget, was all in all to us. 
I don't want to abuse your sympathy, but you must 
understand that it is in you that we can find all that is 
left of his generous soul." 

I was looking at him ; not a muscle of his face 
moved in the least. And yet, even at the time, I did 
not suspect him of insensibility. It was a sort of rapt 
thoughtfulness. Then he stirred slightly. 

" You are going, Kirylo Sidorovitch ? " she asked. 

"I! Going? Where? Oh yes, but I must tell 
you first . . ;" His voice was muffled and he forced 
himself to produce it with visible repugnance, as if 
speech were something disgusting or deadly. " That 
story, you know — the story I heard this afternoon . . ." 


" I know the story already," she said sadly. 

" You know it ! Have youj correspondents in St. 
Petersburg too ? " 

" No. It's Sophia Antonovna. I have seen her just 
now. She sends you her greetings. She is going away 

He had lowered at last his fascinated glance ; she 
too was looking down, and standing thus before each 
other in the glaring light, between the four bare walls, 
they seemed brought out from the confused immensity 
of the Eastern borders to be exposed cruelly to the 
observation of my Western eyes. And I observed them. 
There was nothing else to do. My existence seemed so 
utterly forgotten by these two that I dared not now 
make a movement. And I thought to myself that, of 
course, they had to come together, the sister and the friend 
of that dead man. The ideas, the hopes, the aspirations, 
the cause of Freedom, expressed in their common affec- 
tion for Victor Haldin, the moral victim of autocracy, — all 
this must draw them to each other fatally. Her very 
ignorance and his loneliness to which he had alluded so 
strangely must work to that end. And, indeed, I saw 
that the work was done already. Of course. It was 
manifest that they must have been thinking of each other 
for a long time before they met. She had the letter from 
that beloved brother kindling her imagination by the 
severe praise attached to that one name ; and for him to 
see that exceptional girl was enough. The only cause for 
surprise was his gloomy aloofness before her clearly ex- 
pressed welcome. But he was young, and however 
austere and devoted to his revolutionary ideals, he was 
not blind. The period of reserve was over ; he was 
coming forward in his own way. I could not mistake 
the significance of this late visit, for in what he had to 
say there was nothing urgent. The true cause dawned 


upon me : he had discovered that he needed her — 
and she was moved by the same feeling. It was the 
second time that I saw them together, and I knew 
that next time they met I would not be there, either 
remembered or forgotten. I would have virtually 
ceased to exist for both these young people. 

I made this discovery in a very few moments. 
Meantime, Natalia Haldin was telling Razumov briefly 
of our peregrinations from one end of Geneva to the 
other. While speaking she raised her hands above her 
head to untie her veil, and that movement displayed 
for an instant the seductive gj;ace of her youthful 
figure, clad in the simplest of mourning. In the trans- 
parent shadow the hat rim threw on her face her grey 
eyes had an enticing lustre. Her voice, with its un- 
feminine yet exquisite timbre, was steady, and she spoke 
quickly, frank, unembarrassed. As she justified her 
action by the mental state of her mother, a spasm of 
pain marred the generously co nfiding harmony orTier' 
features. T perceived that with his downcast eyes he 
had the air of a man who is listening to a strain of music 
rather than to articulated speech. And in the same way, 
after she had ceased, he seemed to listen yet, motionless, 
as if under the spell of suggestive sound. He came to 
himself, muttering — 

" Yes, yes. She has not shed a tear. She did not 
seem to hear what I was saying. I might have told her 
anything. She looked as if no longer belonging to this 

Miss Haldin gave signs of profound distress. Her 
voice faltered. " You don't know how bad it has come 
to be. She expects now to see Jmn ! " The veil 
dropped from her fingers and she clasped her hands 
in anguish. " It shall end by her seeing him," she 


Razumov raised his head sharply and attached on 
her a prolonged thoughtful glance. 

" H'm. That's very possible," he muttered in a 
peculiar tone, as if giving his opinion on a matter of 
fact. " I wonder what . . ," He checked himself, 

" That would be the end. Her mind shall be gone 
then, and her spirit will follow." 

Miss Haldin unclasped her hands and let them fall 
by her side. 

" You think so ? " he queried profoundly. Miss 
Haldin's lips were slightly parted. Something unex- 
pected and unfathomable in that young man's character 
had fascinated her from the first. " No ! There's 
neither truth nor consolation to be got from the 
phantoms of the dead," he added after a weighty pause. 
" I might have told her something true ; for instance, 
that your brother meant to save his life — to escape. 
There can be no doubt of that. But I did not." 

" You did not ! But why ? " 

" I don't know. Other thoughts came into my 
head," he answered. He seemed to me to be watching 
himself inwardly, as though he were trying to count 
his own heart-beats, while his eyes never for a moment 
left the face of the girl. " You were not there," he 
continued. " I had made up my mind never to see you 

This seemed to take her breath away for a moment. 

" You . . . How is it possible ? " 

"You may well ask. . . . However, I think that I 
refrained from telling your mother from prudence. I 
might have assured her that in- the last conversation 
he held as a free man he mentioned you both . . ." 

" That last conversation was with you," she struck 
in her deep, moving voice. " Some day you must . . ." 

" It was with me. Of you he said that you had 


trustful eyes. And why I have not been able to forget 
that phrase I don't know. It meant that there is in 
you no guile, no deception, no falsehood, no suspicion — 
nothing in your heart that could give you a conception 
of a living, acting, speaking lie, if ever it came in your 
way. That you are a predestined victim . . . Ha ! what 
a devilish suggestion ! " 

The convulsive, uncontrolled tone of the last words 
disclosed the precarious hold he had over himself. He 
was like a man defying his own dizziness in high places 
and tottering suddenly on the very edge of the precipice. 
Miss Haldin pressed her hand to her breast. The 
dropped black veil lay on the floor between them. 
Her movement steadied him. He looked intently on 
that hand till it descended slowly, and then raised again 
his eyes to her face. But he did not give her time to 

" No ? You don't understand ? Very well." He 
had recovered his calm by a miracle of will. " So you 
talked with Sophia Antonovna ? " 

" Yes. Sophia Antonovna told me . . ." Miss 
Haldin stopped, wonder growing in her wide eyes. 

" H'm. That's the respectable enemy," he muttered, 
as though he were alone. 

" The tone of her references to you was extremely 
friendly," remarked Miss Haldin, after waiting for a while. 

" Is that your impression ? And she the most 
intelligent of the lot, too. Things then are going as 
well as possible. Everything conspires to . . . Ah ! 
these conspirators," he said slowly, with an accent of 
scorn ; " they would get hold of you in no time ! 
You know, Natalia Victorovna, I have the greatest 
difficulty in saving myself from the superstition of an 
active Providence. It's irresistible. . . . The alternative, 
of course, would be the personal Devil of our simple 


ancestors. But, if so, he has overdone it altogether — 
the old Father of Lies — our national patron — our 
domestic god, whom we take with us when we go abroad. 
He has overdone it. It seems that I am not simple 
enough . . . That's it ! I ought to have known . . . 
And I did know it," he added in a tone of poignant 
distress which overcame my astonishment. 

" This man is jeranged," I said to myself, very much 

The next moment he gave me a very special im- 
pression beyond the range of commonplace definitions. 
It was as though he had stabbed himself outside and 
had come in there to show it ; and more than that — 
as though he were turning the knife in the wound and 
watching the effect. That was the impression, rendered 
in physical terms. One could not defend oneself from 
a certain amount of pity. But it was for Miss Haldin, 
already so tried in her deepest affections, that I felt 
a serious concern. Her attitude, her face, expressed 
compassion struggling with doubt on the verge of 

" What is it, Kirylo Sidorovitch ? " There was a 
hint of tenderness in that cry. He only stared at her 
in that complete surrender of all his faculties which 
in a happy lover would have had the name of ecstasy. 

" Why are you looking at me like this, Kirylo 
Sidorovitch ? I have approached you frankly. I need 
at this time to see clearly in myself . . ." She ceased 
for a moment as if to give him an opportunity to utter 
at last some word worthy of her exalted trust in her 
brother's friend. His silence became impressive, like a 
sign of a momentous resolution. 

In the end Miss Haldin went on, appealingly — 

" I have waited for you anxiously. But now that 
you have been moved to come to us in your kindness, 


you alarm me. You speak obscurely. It seems as if you 
were keeping back something from me." 

" Tell me, Natalia Victorovna," he was heard at last 
in a strange unringing voice, " whom did you see in that 
place ? " 

She was startled, and as if deceived in her expecta- 

" Where ? In Peter Ivanovitch's rooms ? There 
was Mr. Laspara and three other people." 

" Ha I The vanguard — the forlorn hope of the 
great plot," he commented to himself. " Bearers of 
the spark to start an explosion which is meant to 
change fundamentally the lives of so many millions 
in order that Peter Ivanovitch should be the head of a 

" You are teasing me," she said. " Our dear one 
told me once to remember that men serve always some- 
thing greater than themselves — the idea." 

" Our dear one," he repeated slowly. The effort he 
made to appear unmoved absorbed all the force of his 
soul. He stood before her like a being with hardly 
a breath of life. His eyes, even as under great physical 
suffering, had lost all their fire. " Ah ! your brother . . . 
But on your lips, in your voice, it sounds . . . and 
indeed in you everything is divine. ... I wish I could 
know the innermost depths of your thoughts, of your 

" But why, Kirylo Sidorovitch ? " she cried, alarmed 
by these words coming out of strangely lifeless lips. 

" Have no fear. It is not to betray you. So you 
went there? . . . And Sophia Antonovna, what did she 
tell you, then ? " 

" She said very little, really. She knew that I 
should hear everything from you. She had no time for 
more than a few words." Miss Haldin's voice dropped 


and she became silent for a moment. " The man, it 
appears, has taken his life," she said sadly. 

"Tell me, Natalia Victorovna," he asked after a 
pause, " do you believe in remorse ? " 

" What a question ! " 

"What can }'ou know of it?" he muttered thickly. 
" It is not for such as you . . . What I meant to 
ask was whether you believed in the efficacy of 
remorse ? " 

She hesitated as though she had not understood, 
then her face lighted up. « 

" Yes," she said firmly. 

" So he is absolved. Moreover, that Ziemianitch 
was a brute, a drunken brute." 

A shudder passed through Natalia Haldin. 

" But a man of the people," Razumov went on, " to 
whom they, the revolutionists, tell a tale of sublime 
hopes. Well, the people must be forgiven. . . . And 
you must not believe all you've heard from that source, 
either," he added, with a sort of sinister reluctance. 

" You are concealing something from me,'' she 

'• Do you, Natalia Victorovna, believe in the duty of 
revenge ? " 

" Listen, Kirylo Sidorovitch. I believe that the 
future shall be merciful to us all. Revolutionist and 
reactionary, victim and executioner, betrayer and be- 
trayed, they shall all be pitied together when the light 
breaks on our black sky at last. Pitied and forgotten ; 
for without that there can be no union and no love." 

" I hear. No revenge for you, then ? Never ? 
Not the least bit?" He smiled bitterly with his 

[colourless lips. " You yourself are like the very spirit 
of that merciful future. Strange that it does not make 
it easier. ... No ! But suppose that the real betrayer 


of your brother — Ziemianitch had a part in it too, but 
insignificant and quite involuntary — suppose that he was 
a young man, educated, an intellectual worker, thought- 
ful, a man your brother might have trusted lightly, 
perhaps, but still — suppose . . . But there's a whole 
story there." 

" And you know the story ! Rut why, then " 

" I have heard it. There is a staircase in it, and 
even phantoms, but that does not matter if a man 
always serves something greater than himself — the idea. 
I wonder who is the greatest victim in that tale ? " 

" In that tale ! " Miss Haldin repeated. She seemed 
turned into stone. 

" Do you know why I came to you ? It is simply 
because there is no one anywhere in the whole great 
world I could go to. Do you understand what I say ? 
Not one to go to. Do you conceive the desolation of 
the thought — no one — to — go — to ? " 

Utterly misled by her own enthusiastic interpretation 
of two lines in the letter of a visionary, under the spell 
of her own dread of lonely days, in their overshadowed 
world of angry strife, she was unable to see the truth 
struggling on his lips. What she was conscious of was 
the obscure form of his suffering. She was on the point 
of extending her hand to him impulsively when he 
spoke again. 

" An hour after I saw you first I knew how it would 
be. The terrors of remorse, revenge, confession, anger, 
hate, fear, are like nothing to the atrocious temptation 
which you put in my way the day you appeared before 
me with your voice, with your face, in the garden of 
that accursed villa." 

She looked utterly bewildered for a moment ; then, 
with a sort of despairing insight went straight to the 


" The story, Kirylo Sidorovitch, the story ! " 

" There is no more to tell ! " He made a movement 
forward, and she actually put her hand on his shoulder 
to push him away ; but her strength failed her, and he 
kept his ground, though trembling in every limb. " It 
ends here — on this very spot." He pressed a de- 
nunciatory finger to his breast with force, and became 
perfectly still. 

I ran forward, snatching up the chair, and was in time 
to catch hold of Miss Haldin and lower her down. As 
she sank into it she swung half round on my arm, and 
remained averted from us both, drooping over the back. 
He looked at her with an appalling expressionless 
tranquillity. Incredulity, struggling with astonishment, 
anger, and disgust, deprived me for a time of the power 
of speech. Then I turned on him, whispering from 
very rage — 

" This is monstrous. What are you staying for ? 
Don't let her catch sight of you again. Go away ! . . ," 
He did not budge. " Don't you understand that your 
presence is intolerable — even to me? If there's any 
sense of shame in you. . . ." 

Slowly his sullen eyes moved in my direction. 
" How did this old man come here ? " he muttered, 

Suddenly Miss Haldin sprang up from the chair, 
made a few steps, and tottered. Forgetting my indigna- 
tion, and even the man himself, I hurried to her assist- 
ance. I took her by the arm, and she let me lead - 
her into the drawing-room. Away from the lamp, in 
the deeper dusk of the distant end, the profile of Mrs. 
Haldin, her hands, her whole figure had the stillness 
of a sombre painting. Miss Haldin stopped, and pointed 
mournfully at the tragic immobility of her mother, who 
seemed to watch a beloved head lying in her lap. 


That gesture had an unequalled force of expression, 
so far-reaching in its human distress that one could not 
believe that it pointed out merely the ruthless working 
of political institutions. After assisting Miss Haldin to 
the sofa, I turned round to go back and shut the door. 
Framed in the opening, in the searching glare of the 
white anteroom, my eyes fell on Razumov, still there, 
standing before the empty chair, as if rooted for ever to 
the spot of his atrocious confession. A wonder came 
nver m p that the mysterious force which had torn it out 
of him had failed to destroy his life, to shatter his body. 
It was there unscathed. I stared at the broad line of 
his shoulders, his dark head, the amazing immobility 
of his limbs. At his feet the veil dropped by Miss 
Haldin looked intensely black in the white crudity 
of the light. He was gazing at it spell-bound. Next 
moment, stooping with an incredible, savage swiftness, 
he snatched it up and pressed it to his face with both 
hands. Something, extreme astonishment perhaps, 
dimmed my eyes, so that he seemed to vanish before 
he moved. 

The slamming of the outer door restored my sight, 
and I went on contemplating the empty chair in the 
empty ante-room. The meaning of what I had seen 
reached my mind with a staggering shock. I seized 
Natalia Haldin by the shoulder. 

" That miserable wretch has carried off your veil ! " 
I cried, in the scared, deadened voice of an awful 
discovery. " He . . ." 

The rest remained unspoken. I stepped back and 
looked down at her, in silent horror. Her hands were 
lying lifelessly, palms upwards, on her lap. She raised 
her grey eyes slowly. Shadows seemed to come and go 
in them as if the steady flame of her soul had been made 
to vacillate at last in the cross-currents of poisoned air 


from the corrupted dark immensity claiming her for its 
own, where virtues themselves fester into crimes in the 
cynicism of oppression and revolt. 

" It is impossible to be more unhappy. . . ." The 
languid whisper of her voice struck me with dismay. 
" It is impossible. ... I feel my heart becoming like 


Razumov walked straight home on the wet glistening 
pavement. A heavy shower passed over him ; distant 
lightning played faintly against the fronts of the dumb 
houses with the shuttered shops all along the Rue de 
Carouge ; and now and then, after the faint flash, there 
was a faint, sleepy rumble ; but the main forces of the 
thunderstorm remained massed down the Rhone valley 
as if loath to attack the respectable and passionless abode 
of democratic liberty, the serious-minded town of dreary 
hotels, tendering the same indifferent, hospitality to 
tourists of all nations and to international conspirators 
of every shade. 

The owner of the shop was making ready to close 
when Razumov entered and without a word extended his 
hand for the key of his room. On reaching it for him, 
from a shelf, the man was about to pass a small joke as 
to taking the air in a thunderstorm, but, after looking at 
the face of his lodger, he only observed, just to say some- 
thing — 

" You've got very wet." 

" Yes, I am washed clean," muttered Razumov, who 
was dripping from head to foot, and passed through 
the inner door towafds the staircase leading to his 


He did not change his clothes, but, after lighting the 
candle, took off his watch and chain, laid them on the 
table, and sat down at once to write. The book of his 
compromising record was kept in a locked drawer, which 
he pulled out violently, and did not even trouble to push 
back afterwards. 

In this queer pedantism of a man who had read, 
thought, lived, pen in hand, there is the sincerity of the 
attempt to grapple by the same means with another 
profounder knowledge. After some passages which 
have been already made use of in the building up of 
this narrative, or add nothing new to the psychological 
side of this disclosure (there is even one more allusion to 
the silver medal in this last entry), comes a page and a 
half of incoherent writing where his expression is baffled 
by the novelty and the mysteriousness of that side of 
our emotional life to which his solitary existence had 
been a stranger. Then only he begins to address 
directly the reader he had in his mind, trying to 
express in broken sentences, full of wonder and awe, 
the sovereign (he uses that very word) power of her , 
person over his imagination, in which lay the dormant 
seed of her brother's words. 

"... The most trustful eyes in the world — your 
brother said of you when he was as well as a dead man 
already. And when you stood before me with your hand 
extended, I remembered the very sound of his voice, and 
I looked into your eyes — and that was enough. I knew 
that something had happened, but I did not know then 
what. . . . But don't be deceived, Natalia Victorovna. 
I believed that I had in my breast nothing but an 
inexhaustible fund of anger and hate for you both. 
I remembered that he had looked to you for the 
perpetuation of his visionary soul. He, this man who 
had robbed me of my hard -working, purposeful exist 



ence. I, too, had my guiding idea ; and remember 
that, amongst us, it is more difficult to lead a life of toil 
and self-denial than to go out in the street and kill from 
conviction. But enough of that. Hate or no hate, I felt 
_at once that, while shunning the sight of you, I could 
never succeed in driving away your image. I would say, 
addressing that dead man, ' Is this the way you are 
going to haunt me ? ' It is only later on that I under- 
stood — only to-day, only a few hours ago. What could 
I have known of what was tearing me to pieces and 
.dragging the secret for ever to my lips ? You were 
appointed to undo the evil by making me betray myself 
back into truth and peace. You ! And you have done 
it in the same way, too, in which he ruined me : by 
forcing upon me your confidence. Only what I detested 
j him for, in you ended by appearing noble and exalted. 
' But, I repeat, be not deceived. I was given up to evil. 
I exulted in having induced that silly innocent fool to 
steal his father's money. He was a fool, but not a thief. 
I made him one. It was necessary. I had to confirm 
myself in my contempt and hate for what I betrayed. I 
have suffered from as many vipers in my heart as any 
social democrat of them all — vanity, ambitions, jealousies, 
shameful desires, evil passions of envy and revenge. I 
had my security stolen from me, years of good work, my 
best hopes. Listen — now comes the true confession. The 
/ other was nothing. To save me, your trustful eyes had 
j to entice my thought to the very edge of the blackest 
j treachery. I could see them constantly looking at me 
i with the confidence of your pure heart which had not been 
: touched by evil things. Victor Haldin had stolen the 
truth of my life from me, who had nothing else in the 
world, and he boasted of living on through you on this 
earth where I had no place to lay my head on. She 
will marry some day, he had said — and your eyes were 


trustful. And do you know what I said to myself? I 
shall steal his sister's soul from her. When we met that 
first morning in the gardens, and you spoke to me con- 
fidingly in the generosity of your spirit, I was thinking, 
'Yes, he himself by talking of her trustful eyes has 
delivered her into my hands ! ' If you could have looked 
then into my heart, you would have cried out aloud with 
terror and disgust. 

" Perhaps no one will believe the baseness of such an 
intention to be possible. It's certain that, when we parted 
that morning, I gloated over it. I brooded upon the best 
way. The old man you introduced me to insisted on 
walking with me. I don't know who he is. He talked 
of you, of your lonely, helpless state, and every word of 
that friend of yours was egging me on to the unpardonable 
sin of stealing a soul. Could he have been the devil 
himself in the shape of an old Englishman ? Natalia 
Victorovna, I was possessed ! I returned to look at 
you every day, and drink in your presence the poison 
of my infamous intention. But I foresaw difficulties. 
Then Sophia Antonovna, of whom I was not thinking 
— I had forgotten her existence — appears suddenly 
with that tale from St. Petersburg. . . . The only 
thing needed to make me safe — a trusted revolutionist 
for ever. 

" It was as if Ziemianitch had hanged himself to help 
me on to further crime. The strength of falsehood 
seemed irresistible. These people stood doomed by the 
folly and the illusion that was in them — they being 
themselves the slaves of lies. Natalia Victorovna, I 
embraced the might of falsehood, I exulted in it — I gave 
myself up to it for a time. Who could have resisted ! 
You yourself were the prize of it. I sat alone in my 
room, planning a life, the very thought of which makes 
me shudder now, like a believer who had been tempted 


to an atrocious sacrilege. But I brooded ardently 
over its images. The only thing was that there seemed 
to be no air in it. And also I was afraid of your 
mother. I never knew mine. I've never known 
any kind of love. There is something in the mere 
word. . . . Of you, I was not afraid — forgive me for 
telling you this. No, not of you. You were truth 
itself. You could not suspect me. As to your mother, 
you yourself feared already that her mind had given way 
from grief Who could believe anything against me ? 
Had not Ziemianitch hanged himself from remorse ? I 
said to myself, ' Let's put it to the test, and be done 
with it once for all.' I trembled when I went in ; but 
your mother hardly listened to what I was saying to her, 
and, in a little while, seemed to have forgotten my very 
existence. I sat looking at her. There was no longer 
anything between you and me. You were defenceless — 
and soon, very soon, you would be alone. ... I thought 
of you. Defenceless. For days you have talked with 
me — opening your heart. I remembered the shadow of 
your eyelashes over your grey trustful eyes. And your 
pure forehead ! It is low like the forehead of statues 
— calm, unstained. It was as if your pure brow bore a 
light which fell on me, searched my heart and saved me 
from ignominy, from ultimate undoing. And it saved 
you too. Pardon my presumption. But there was 
that in your glances which seemed to tell me that 
you . . . Your light ! your truth ! I felt that I must 
tell you that I had ended by loving you. And to 
tell you that I must first confess. Confess, go out — and 

■ " Suddenly you stood before me ! You alone in all 

the world to whom I must confess. You fascinated me 
— you have freed me from the blindness of anger and 
hate — the truth shining in you drew the truth out of me. 


Now I have done it ; and as I write here, I am in the 
depths of anguish, but there is air to breathe at last — 
air ! And, by the by, that old man sprang up from 
somewhere as I was speaking to you, and raged at me 
like a disappointed devil. I suffer horribly, but I am not 
in despair. There is only one more thing to do for me. 
After that — if they let me — I shall go away and bury 
myself in obscure misery. In giving Victor Haldin up, 
it was myself, after all, whom I have betrayed most 
basely. You must believe what I say now, you can't 
refuse to believe this. IVIos^ basely . It is through you 
that I came to feel this so deeply. After all, it is they 
and not I who have the right on their side 1 — theirs is 
the strength of invisible powers. So be it. Only don't be 
deceived, Natalia Victorovna, I am not converted. Have 
I then the soul of a slave ? No ! I am independent — and 
therefore perdition is my lot." 

On these words, he stopped writing, shut the book, 
and wrapped it in the black veil he had carried off. He 
then ransacked the drawers for paper and string, made 
up a parcel which he addressed to Miss Haldin, Boule- 
vard des Philosophes, and then flung the pen away from 
him into a distant corner. 

This done, he sat down with the watch before him. 
He could have gone out at once, but the hour had not 
struck yet. The hour would be midnight. There was 
no reason for that choice except that the facts and the 
words of a certain evening in his past were timing his 
conduct in the present. The sudden power Natalia 
Haldin had gained over him he ascribed to the same 
cause. " You don't walk with impunity over a phantom's 
breast," he heard himself mutter. " Thus he saves me," 
he thought suddenly. " He himself, the betrayed man." 
The vivid image of Miss Haldin seemed to stand by 
him, watching him relentlessly. She was not disturbing. 


He had done with life, and his thought even in her pre- 
sence tried to take an impartial survey. Now his scorn 
extended to himself. " I had neither the simplicity nor the 
courage nor the self-possession to be a scoundrel, or an 
exceptionally able man. For who, with us in Russia, is 
to tell a scoundrel from an exceptionally able man ? . . ." 

He was the puppet of his past, because at the very 
stroke of midnight he jumped up and ran swiftly down- 
stairs as if confident that, by the power of destiny, the 
house door would fly open before the absolute necessity 
of his errand. And as a matter of fact, just as he 
got to the bottom of the stairs, it was opened for 
him by some people of the house coming home late 
— two men and a woman. He slipped out through 
them into the street, swept then by a fitful gust of 
wind. They were, of course, very much startled. A 
flash of lightning enabled them to observe him walking 
away quickly. One of the men shouted, and was start- 
ing in pursuit, but the woman had recognized him. 
" It's all right. It's only that young Russian from the 
third floor." The darkness returned with a single clap 
of thunder, like a gun fired for a warning of his escape 
from the prison of lies. 

He must have heard at some time or other and now 
remembered unconsciously that there was to be a gather- 
ing of revolutionists at the house of Julius Laspara that 
evening. At any rate, he made straight for the Laspara 
house, and found himself without surprise ringing at its 
street door, which, of course, was closed. By that time 
the thunderstorm had attacked in earnest. The steep 
incline of the street ran with water, the thick fall of rain 
enveloped him like a luminous veil in the play of 
lightning. He was perfectly calm, and, between the 
crashes, listened attentively to the delicate tinkling of 
the doorbell somewhere within the house. 


There was some difficulty before he was admitted. 
His person was not known to that one of the guests who 
had volunteered to go downstairs and see what was the 
matter. Razumov argued with him patiently. There 
could be no harm in admitting a caller. He had some- 
thing to communicate to the company upstairs. 

" Something of importance ? " 

" That'll be for the hearers to judge." 

" Urgent ? " 

" Without a moment's delay." 

Meantime, one of the Laspara daughters descended 
the stairs, small lamp in hand, in a grimy and 
crumpled gown, which seemed to hang on her by a 
miracle, and looking more than ever like an old doll 
with a dusty brown wig, dragged from under a sofa. 
She recognized Razumov at once. 

" How do you do? Of course you may come in." 

Following her light, Razumov climbed two flights of 
stairs from the lower darkness. Leaving the lamp on a 
bracket on the landing, she opened a door, and went in, 
accompanied by the sceptical guest. Razumov entered 
last. He closed the door behind him, and stepping on 
one side, put his back against the wall. 

The three little rooms en sjiite, with low, smoky 
ceilings and lit by paraffin lamps, were crammed with 
people. Loud talking was going on in all three, and 
tea-glasses, full, half-full, and empty, stood everywhere, 
even on the floor. The other Laspara girl sat, dishevelled 
and languid, behind an enormous samovar. In the inner 
doorway Razumov had a glimpse of the protuberance of 
a large stomach, which he recognized. Only a {q.\k feet 
from him Julius Laspara was getting down hurriedly 
from his high stool. 

The appearance of the midnight visitor caused no 
small sensation. Laspara is very summary in his version 


of that night's happenings. After some words of greeting, 
disregarded by Razumov, Laspara (ignoring purposely 
his guest's soaked condition and his extraordinary 
manner of presenting himself) mentioned something 
about writing an article. He was growing uneasy, and 
Razumov appeared absent-minded, " I have written 
already all I shall ever write," he said at last, with a 
little laugh. 

The whole company's attention was riveted on the 
new-comer, dripping with water, deadly pale, and keeping 
his position against the wall. Razumov put Laspara 
gently aside, as though he wished to be seen from head 
to foot by everybody. By then the buzz of conversa- 
tions had died down completely, even in the most distant 
of the three rooms. The doorway facing Razumov 
became blocked by men and women, who craned 
their necks and certainly seemed to expect something 
startling to happen. 

A squeaky, insolent declaration was heard from that 

" I know this ridiculously conceited individual." 

" What individual ? " asked Razumov, raising his 
bowed head, and searching with his eyes all the eyes 
fixed upon him. An intense surprised silence lasted for 
a time. " If it's me . . ." 

He stopped, thinking over the form of his confession, 
and found it suddenly, unavoidably suggested by the 
fateful evening of his life. 

" I am come here," he began, in a clear voice, 
" to talk of an individual called Ziemianitch. Sophia 
Antonovna has informed me that she would make 
public a certain letter from St. Petersburg , . ." 

" Sophia Antonovna has left us early in the even- 
ing," said Laspara. " It's quite correct. Everybody 
here has heard . . ." 


"Very well," Razumov interrupted, with a shade of 
impatience, for his heart was beating strongly. Then, 
mastering his voice so far that there was even a touch of 
irony in his clear, forcible enunciation — 

" In justice to that individual, the much ill-used 
peasant, Ziemianitch, I now declare solemnly that the 
conclusions of that letter calumniate a man of the people 
— a bright Russian soul. Ziemianitch had nothing to 
do with the actual arrest of Victor Haldin." 

Razumov dwelt on the name heavily, and then 
waited till the faint, mournful murmur which greeted it 
had died out. 

" Victor Victorovitch Haldin," he began again, " acting 
with, no doubt, noble-minded imprudence, took refuge 
with a certain student of whose opinions he knew nothing 
but what his own illusions suggested to his generous 
heart. It was an unwise display of confidence. But I 
am not here to appreciate the actions of Victor Haldin. 
Am I to tell you of the feelings of that student, sought 
out in his obscure solitude, and menaced by the com- 
plicity forced upon him ? Am I to tell you what he 
did? It's a rather complicated story. In the end the 

student went to General T himself, and said, ' I 

have the man who killed de P locked up in my 

room, Victor Haldin — a student like myself " 

A great buzz arose, in which Razumov raised his 

" Observe — that man had certain honest ideals in 
view. But I didn't come here to explain him." 

" No. But you must explain how you know all 
this," came in grave tones from somebody. 

" A vile coward ! " This simple cry vibrated with 
indignation. " Name him ! " shouted other voices. 

"What are you clamouring for?" said Razumov dis- 
dainfully, in the profound silence which fell on the 


raising of his hand. " Haven't you all understood that 
I am that man ? " 

Laspara went away brusquely from his side and 
climbed upon his stool. In the first forward surge of 
people towards him, Razumov expected to be torn to 
pieces, but they fell back without touching him, and 
nothing came of it but noise. It was bewildering. 
His head ached terribly. In the confused uproar he 
made out several times the name of Peter Ivanovitch, 
the word "judgement," and the phrase, "But this is a 
confession," uttered by somebody in a desperate shriek. 
In the midst of the tumult, a young man, younger than 
himself, approached him with blazing eyes. 

" I must beg you," he said, with venomous politeness, 
" to be good enough not to move from this spot till you 
are told what you are to do." 

Razumov shrugged his shoulders. 

" I came in voluntarily." 

" Maybe. But you won't go out till you are per- 
mitted," retorted the other. 

He beckoned with his hand, calling out, " Louisa ! 
Louisa ! come here, please " ; and, presently, one of the 
Laspara girls (they had been staring at Razumov from 
behind the samovar) came along, trailing a bedraggled 
tail of dirty flounces, and dragging with her a chair, 
which she set against the door, and, sitting down on 
it, crossed her legs. The young man thanked her 
effusively, and rejoined a group carrying on an animated 
discussion in low tones. Razumov lost himself for a 

A squeaky voices creamed, " Confession or no confes- 
sion, you are a police spy ! " 

The revolutionist Nikita had pushed his way in 
front of Razumov, and faced him with his big, livid 
cheeks, his heavy paunch, bull neck, and enormous 


hands. Razumov looked at the famous slayer of 
gendarmes in silent disgust. 

" And what are you ? " he said, very low, then shut 
his eyes, and rested the back of his head against the 

" It would be better for you to depart now." Razumov 
heard a mild, sad voice, and opened his eyes. The 
gentle speaker was an elderly man, with a great brush 
of fine hair making a silvery halo all round his keen, 
intelligent face. " Peter Ivanovitch shall be informed of 
your confession — and you shall be directed . . ." 

Then, turning to Nikita, nicknamed Necator, stand- 
ing by, he appealed to him in a murmur — 

" What else can we do ? After this piece of sincerity 
he cannot be dangerous any longer." 

The other muttered, " Better make sure of that before 
we let him go. Leave that to me. I know how to deal 
with such gentlemen." 

He exchanged meaning glances with two or three 
men, who nodded slightly, then turning roughly to 
Razumov, " You have heard ? You are not wanted 
here. Why don't you get out ? " 

The Laspara girl on guard rose, and pulled the chair 
out of the way unemotionally. She gave a sleepy stare to 
Razumov, who started, looked round the room and passed 
slowly by her as if struck by some sudden thought. 

" I beg you to observe," he said, already on the 
landing, " that 1 had only to hold my tongue. To-day, 
of all days since I came amongst you, I was made safe, 
and to-day I made myself free from falsehood, from 
remorse — independent of every single human being on 
this earth." 

He turned his back on the room, and walked towards 
the stairs, but, at the violent crash of the door behind him, 
he looked over his shoulder and saw that Nikita, with 


three others, had followed him out. " They are going to 
kill me, after all," he thought. 

Before he had time to turn round and confront them 
fairly, they set on him with a rush. He was driven head- 
long against the wall. " I wonder how," he completed 
his thought. Nikita cried, with a shrill laugh right in 
his face, "We shall make you harmless. You wait 
a bit." 

Razumov did not struggle. The three men held him 
pinned against the wall, while Nikita, taking up a posi- 
tion a little on one side, deliberately swung off his 
enormous arm. Razumov, looking for a knife in his 
hand, saw it come at him open, unarmed, and received a 
tremendous blow on the side of his head over his ear. 
At the same time he heard a faint, dull detonating 
sound, as if some one had fired a pistol on the other side 
of the wall. A raging fury awoke in him at this outrage. 
The people in Laspara's rooms, holding their breath, 
listened to the desperate scuffling of four men all over the 
landing ; thuds against the walls, a terrible crash against 
the very door, then all of them went down together 
with a violence which seemed to shake the whole house. 
Razumov, overpowered, breathless, crushed under the 
weight of his assailants, saw the monstrous Nikita 
squatting on his heels near his head, while the others 
held him down, kneeling on his chest, gripping his throat, 
lying across his legs. 

" Turn his face the other way," the paunchy terrorist 
directed, in an excited, gleeful squeak. 

Razumov could struggle no longer. He was ex- 
hausted ; he had to watch passively the heavy open 
hand of the brute descend again in a degrading blow 
over his other ear. It seemed to split his head in two, 
and all at once the men holding him became perfectly 
silent — soundless as shadows. In silence they pulled 


him brutally to his feet, rushed with him noiselessly 
down the staircase, and, opening the door, flung him 
out into the street. 

He fell forward, and at once rolled over and over 
helplessly, going down the short slope together with the 
rush of running rain water. He came to rest in the 
roadway of the street at the bottom, lying on his back, 
with a great flash of lightning over his face — a vivid, silent 
flash of lightning which blinded him utterly. He picked 
himself up, and put his arm over his eyes to recover his 
sight. Not a sound reached him from anywhere, and he 
began to walk, staggering, down a long, empty street. 
The lightning waved and darted round him its silent 
flames, the water of the deluge fell, ran, leaped, drove — 
noiseless like the drift of mist. In this unearthly stillness 
his footsteps fell silent on the pavement, while a dumb 
wind drove him on and on, like a lost mortal in a 
phantom world ravaged by a soundless thunderstorm. 
God only knows where his noiseless feet took him to 
that night, here and there, and back again without pause 
or rest. Of one place, at least, where they did lead him, 
we heard afterwards ; and, in the morning, the driver of 
the first south-shore tramcar, clanging his bell desperately, 
saw a bedraggled, soaked man without a hat, and walking 
in the roadway unsteadily with his head down, step right 
in front of his car, and go under. 

When they picked him up, with two broken limbs and 
a crushed side, Razumov had not lost consciousness. It 
was as though he had tumbled, smashing himself, into 
a world of mutes. Silent men, moving unheard, lifted 
him up, laid him on the sidewalk, gesticulating and 
grimacing round him their alarm, horror, and compassion. 
A red face with moustaches stooped close over him, lips 
moving, eyes rolling. Razumov tried hard to understand 
the reason of this dumb show. To those who stood around 


him, the features of that stranger, so grievously hurt, 
seemed composed in meditation. Afterwards his eyes sent 
out at them a look of fear and closed slowly. They stared 
at him. Razumov made an effort to remember some 
French words. 

"/^ suis sourd" he had time to utter feebly, before 
he fainted. 

" He is deaf," they exclaimed to each other. " That's 
why he did not hear the car." 

They carried him off in that same car. Before it 
started on its journey, a woman in a shabby black dress, 
who had run out of the iron gate of some private grounds 
up the road, clambered on to the rear platform and would 
not be put off. 

" I am a relation," she insisted, in bad French. " This 
young man is a Russian, and I am his relation." 

On this plea they let her have her way. She sat 
down calmly, and took his head on her lap ; her scared 
faded eyes avoided looking at his deathlike face. At the 
corner of a street, on the other side of the town, a 
stretcher met the car. She followed it to the door of 
the hospital, where they let her come in and see him laid 
on a bed. Razumov's new-found relation never shed a 
tear, but the officials had some difficulty in inducing her 
to go away. The porter observed her lingering on the 
opposite pavement for a long time. Suddenly, as though 
she had remembered something, she ran off. 

The ardent hater of all Finance ministers, the slave of 

Madame de S , had made up her mind to offer her 

resignation as lady companion to the Egeria of Peter 
Ivanovitch. She had found work to do after her own 

But hours before, while the thunderstorm still raged 
in the night, there had been in the rooms of Julius 
Laspara a great sensation. The terrible Nikita, coming 


in from the landing, uplifted his squeaky voice in horrible 
glee before all the company — 

" Razumov ! Mr, Razumov ! The wonderful Razu- 
mov ! He shall never be any use as a spy on any one. 
He won't talk, because he will never hear anything in his 
life — not a thing ! I have burst the drums of his ears 
for him. Oh, you may trust me. I know the trick. 
Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! I know the trick." 


It was nearly a fortnight after her mother's funeral that 
I saw Natalia Haldin for the last time. 

In those silent, sombre days the doors of the apparte- 
ment on the Boulevard des Philosophes were closed to 
every one but myself. I believe I was of some use, if 
only in this, that I alone was aware of the incredible part 
of the situation. Miss Haldin nursed her mother alone 
to the last moment. If Razumov's visit had anything to 
do with Mrs. Haldin's end (and I cannot help thinking 
that it hastened it considerably), it is because the man, 
trusted impulsively by the ill-fated Victor Haldin, had 
failed to gain the confidence of Victor Haldin's mother. 
What tale, precisely, he told her cannot be known — at 
any rate, I do not know it — but to me she seemed to die 
from the shock of an ultimate disappointment borne in 
silence. She had not believed him. Perhaps she could 
not longer believe any one, and consequently had 
nothing to say to any one — not even to her daughter. 
I suspect that Miss Haldin lived the heaviest hours of 
her life by that silent death-bed. I confess I was angry 
with the broken-hearted old woman passing away in the 
obstinacy of her mute distrust of her daughter. 

When it was all over I stood aside. Miss Haldin 


had her compatriots round her then. A great number 
of them attended the funeral. I was there too, but 
afterwards managed to keep away from Miss Haldin, 
till I received a short note rewarding my self-denial, 
" It is as you would have it. I am going back to 
Russia at once. My mind is made up. Come and 
see me." 

Verily, it was a reward of discretion. I went with- 
out delay to receive it. The appartement of the Boulevard 
des Philosophes presented the dreary signs of impending 
abandonment. It looked desolate and as if already 
empty to my eyes. 

Standing, we exchanged a few words about her 
health, mine, remarks as to some people of the Russian 
colony, and then Natalia Haldin, establishing me on 
the sofa, began to talk openly of her future work, of her 
plans. It was all to be as I had wished it. And it 
was to be for life. We should never see each other 
again. Never ! 
f— I gathered this success to my breast. Natalia 
Haldin looked matured by her open and secret experi- 
ences. With her arms folded she walked up and down 
the whole length of the room, talking slowly, smooth- 
browed, with a resolute profile. She gave me a new 
\ view of herself, and I marvelled at that something grave 

j and measured in her voice, in her movements, in her 
I manner. It was the perfection of collected independ- 
I ence. The strength of her nature had come to surface 
/ because the obscure depths had been stirred. 
L_ " We two can talk of it now," she observed, after a 

silence and stopping short before me. " Have you been 

to inquire at the hospital lately ? " 

" Yes, I have." And as she looked at me fixedly, 

" He will live, the doctors say. But I thought that 

Tekla . . ." 


" Tekla has not been near me for several days," 
explained Miss Haldin quickly. " As I never offered 
to go to the hospital with her, she thinks that I have 
no heart. She is disillusioned about me." 

And Miss Haldin smiled faintly. 

" Yes. She sits with him as long and as often as 
they will let her," I said. " She says she must never 
abandon him — never as long as she lives. He'll need 
somebody — a hopeless cripple, and stone deaf with that." 

"Stone deaf? I didn't know," murmured Natalia 

" He is. It seems strange. I am told there were no 
apparent injuries to the head. They say, too, that it is 
not very likely that he will live so very long for Tekla 
to take care of him." 

Miss Haldin shook her head. 

" While there are travellers ready to fall by the way i 
our Tekla shall never be idle. She is a good Samaritan 
by an irresistible vocation. The revolutionists didn't j 
understand her. Fancy a devoted creature like that j 
being employed to carry about documents sewn in her i 
dress, or made to write from dictation." 

" There is not much perspicacity in the world." 

No sooner uttered, I regretted that observation. 
Natalia Haldin, looking me straight in the face, assented 
by a slight movement of her head. She was not 
offended, but turning away began to pace the room 
again. To my western eyes she seemed to be getting 
farther and farther from me, quite beyond my reach 
now, but undiminished in the increasing distance. I 
remained silent as though it were hopeless to raise my 
voice. The sound of hers, so close to me, made me 
start a little. 

" Tekla saw him picked up after the accident. The 
good soul never explained to me really how it came 


about. She affirms that there was some understanding 
between them — some sort of compact — that in any sore 
need, in misfortune, or difficulty, or pain, he was to come 
to her." 

" Was there ? " I said. " It is lucky for him that 
there was, then. He'll need all the devotion of the good 

It was a fact that Tekla, looking out of her window 
at five in the morning, for some reason or other, had 
beheld Razumov in the grounds of the Chateau Borel, 
standing stockstill, bare-headed in the rain, at the foot 
of the terrace. She had screamed out to him, by name, 
to know what was the matter. He never even raised 
his head. By the time she had dressed herself sufficiently 
to run downstairs he was gone. She started in pursuit, 
and rushing out into the road, came almost directly 
upon the arrested tramcar and the small knot of people 
picking up Razumov, That much Tekla had told me 
herself one afternoon we happened to meet at the door 
of the hospital, and without any kind of comment. But 
I did not want to meditate very long on the inwardness 
of this peculiar episode. 

" Yes, Natalia Victorovna, he shall need somebody 
when they dismiss him, on crutches and stone deaf from 
the hospital. But I do not think that when he rushed 
like an escaped madman into the grounds of the 
Chateau Borel it was to seek the help of that good 

" No," said Natalia, stopping short before me, 
" perhaps not." She sat down and leaned her head on 
her hand thoughtfully. The silence lasted for several 
minutes. During that time I remembered the evening 
of his atrocious confession — the plaint she seemed to 
have hardly enough life left in her to utter, " It is 
impossible to be more unhappy, , . ." The recollection 


would have given me a shudder if I had not been lost 
in wonder at her force and her tranquillity. There was"} 
no longer any Natalia Haldin, because she had com- .' 
pletely ceased to think of herself. It was a great/ 
victory, a characteristically Russian exploit in self-j 

She recalled me to myself by getting up suddenly 
like a person who has come to a decision. She walked 
to the writing-table, now stripped of all the small objects 
associated with her by daily use — a mere piece of dead 
furniture ; but it contained something living, still, since 
she took from a recess a flat parcel which she brought 
to me. 

" It's a book," she said rather abruptly. " It was sent 
to me wrapped up in my veil. I told you nothing at 
the time, but now I've decided to leave it with you. I 
have the right to do that. It was sent to me. It is 
mine. You may preserve it, or destroy it after you have 
read it. And while you read it, please remember that 
I was defenceless. And that he . . ." 

" Defenceless ! " I repeated, surprised, looking hard 

at her. 

— ^ 

" You'll find the very word written there," she i 
whispered. " Well, it's true ! I was defenceless — but 
perhaps you were able to see that for yourself." Her 
face coloured, then went deadly pale. " In justice to the 
man, I want you to remember that I was. Oh, I was, : 
I was!" L^ 

I rose, a little shakily. , ' - 

" I am not likely to forget anything you say at this 
our last parting." 

Her hand fell into mine. 

*' It's difficult to believe that it must be good-bye 
with us." 

She returned my pressure and our hands separated. 


"^ " Yes. I am leaving here to-morrow. My eyes are 
open at last and my hands are free now. As for the 
rest — which of us can fail to hear the stifled cry of our 
great distress ? It may be nothing to the world," 

" The world is more conscious of your discordant 
voices," I said. " It is the way of the world." 

" Yes." She bowed her head in assent, and hesitated 
for a moment. " I must own to you that I shall never 
give up looking forward to the day when all discord shall 
be silenced. Try to imagine its dawn ! The tempest 
of blows and of execrations is over ; all is still ; the new 
sun is rising, and the weary men united at last, taking 
count in their conscience of the ended contest, feel sad- 
dened by their victory, because so many ideas have 
perished for the triumph of one, so many beliefs have 
abandoned them without support. They feel alone on 
the earth and gather close together. Yes, there must be 
many bitter hours ! But at last the anguish of hearts 
shall be extinguished in love." 

And on this last word of her wisdom, a word so 
sweet, so bitter, so cruel sometimes, I said good-bye to 
Natalia Haldin. It is hard to think I shall never look 
any more into the trustful eyes of that girl — wedded to 
an invincible belief in the advent of loving concord 
springing like a heavenly flower from the soil of men's 
earth, soaked in blood, torn by struggles, watered with 

It must be understood that at that time I didn't know 
anything of Mr. Razumov's confession to the assembled 
revolutionists. Natalia Haldin might have guessed 
what was the " one thing more " which remained for 
him to do ; but this my western eyes had failed to 


Tekla, the ex-lady companion of Madame de S , 


haunted his bedside at the hospital. We met once or 
twice at the door of that establishment, but on these 
occasions she was not communicative. She gave me 
news of Mr. Razumov as concisely as possible. He 
was making a slow recovery, but would remain a hope- 
less cripple all his life. Personally, I never went near 
him : I never saw him again, after the awful evening 
when I stood by, a watchful but ignored spectator of his 
scene with Miss Haldin. He was in due course dis- 
charged from the hospital, and his " relative " — so I was 
told — had carried him off somewhere. 

My information was completed nearly two years 
later. The opportunity, certainly, was not of my 
seeking ; it was quite accidentally that I met a much- 
trusted woman revolutionist at the house of a dis- 
tinguished'^ Russian gentleman of liberal convictions, who 
came to live in Geneva for a time. 

He was a quite different sort of celebrity from Peter 
Ivanovitch — a dark-haired man with kind eyes, high- 
shouldered, courteous, and with something hushed and 
circumspect in his manner. He approached me, 
choosing the moment when there was no one near, 
followed by a grey-haired, alert lady in a crimson 

" Our Sophia Antonovna wishes to be made known 
to you," he addressed me, in his guarded voice. " And 
so I leave you two to have a talk together." 

" I would never have intruded myself upon your 
notice," the grey-haired lady began at once, *' if I had 
not been charged with a message for you." 

It was a message of a few friendly words from 
Natalia Haldin. Sophia Antonovna had just returned 
from a secret excursion into Russia, and had seen Miss 
Haldin. She lived in a town " in the centre," sharing 
her compassionate labours between the horrors of over- 


crowded jails, and the heartrending misery of bereaved 
homes. She did not spare herself in good service, 
Sophia Antonovna assured me. 

" She has a faithful soul, an undaunted spirit and an 
indefatigable body," the woman revolutionist summed it 
all up, with a touch of enthusiasm. 

A conversation thus engaged was not likely to drop 
from want of interest on my side. We went to sit 
apart in a corner where no one interrupted us. In the 
course of our talk about Miss Haldin, Sophia Antonovna 
remarked suddenly — 

" I suppose you remember seeing me before ? That 
evening when Natalia came to ask Peter Ivanovitch 
for the address of a certain Razumov, that young man 
who . . ." 

" I remember perfectly," I said. When Sophia 
Antonovna learned that I had in my possession that 
young man's journal given me by Miss Haldin she 
became intensely interested. She did not conceal her 
curiosity to see the document. 

I offered to show it to her, and she at once volun- 
teered to call on me next day for that purpose. 

She turned over the pages greedily for an hour or 
more, and then handed me the book with a faint sigh. 
While moving about Russia, she had seen Razumov too. 
He lived, not " in the centre," but " in the south." She 
described to me a little two-roomed wooden house, in the 
suburb of some very small town, hiding within the high 
plank-fence of a yard overgrown with nettles. He was 
crippled, ill, getting weaker every day, and Tekla the 
Samaritan tended him unweariedly with the pure joy of 
unselfish devotion. There was nothing in that task to 
become disillusioned about. 

I did not hide from Sophia Antonovna my surprise . 
that she should have visited Mr. Razumov. I did not 


even understand the motive. But she informed me that 
she was not the only one, 

" Some of us always go to see him when passing 
through. He is intelligent. He has ideas. . . . He 
talks well, too." 

Presently I heard for the first time of Razumov's 
public confession in Laspara's house. Sophia Antonovna 
gave me a detailed relation of what had occurred there. 
Razumov himself had told her all about it, most 

Then, looking hardat me with her brilliant blackeyes — 

" There are evil moments in every life. A false 
suggestion enters one's brain, and then fear is born — 
fear of oneself, fear for oneself. Or else a false courage — 
who knows ? Well, call it what you like ; but tell me, how 
many of them would deliver themselves up deliberately 
to perdition (as he himself says in that book) rather 
than go on living, secretly debased in their own eyes ? 
How many? . . . And please mark this — he was safe 
when he did it. It was just when he believed himself 
safe and more — infinitely more — when the possibility of 
being loved by that admirable girl first dawned upon 
him, that he discovered that his bitterest railings, 
the worst wickedness, the devil work of his hate and 
pride, could never cover up the ignominy of the 
existence before him. There's character in such a 

I accepted her conclusion in silence. Who would 
care to question the grounds of forgiveness or com- 
passion ? However, it appeared later on, that there was 
some compunction, too, in the charity extended by the 
revolutionary world to Razumov the betrayer. Sophia 
Antonovna continued uneasily — 
► " And then, you know, he was the victim of an 
outrage. It was not authorized. Nothing was decided 


as to what was to be done with him. He had confessed 
voluntarily. And that Nikita who burst the drums of 
his ears purposely, out on the landing, you know, as if 
carried away by indignation — well, he has turned out to 
be a scoundrel of the worst kind — a traitor himself, a 
betrayer — a spy ! Razumov told me he had charged 
him with it by a sort of inspiration . . ." 

" I had a glimpse of that brute," I said. " How 
any of you could have been deceived for half a day 
passes my comprehension ! " 

She interrupted me. 

" There ! There ! Don't talk of it. The first 
time I saw him, I, too, was appalled. They cried me 
down. We were always telling each other, ' Oh ! you 
mustn't mind his appearance.' And then he was always 
ready to kill. There was no doubt of it. He killed — 
yes ! in both camps. The fiend , . ." 

Then Sophia Antonovna, after mastering the angry 
trembling of her lips, told me a very queer tale. It went 
that Councillor Mikulin, travelling in Germany (shortly 
after Razumov's disappearance from Geneva), happened 
to meet Peter Ivanovitch in a railway carriage. Being 
alone in the compartment, these two talked together 
half the night, and it was then that Mikulin the Police 
Chief gave a hint to the Arch-Revolutionist as \o the 
true character of the arch-slayer of gendarmes. It 
looks as though Mikulin had wanted to get rid of that 
particular agent of his own ! He might have grown 
tired of him, or frightened of him. It must also be said 
that Mikulin had inherited the sinister Nikita from his 
predecessor in office. 

And this story, too, I received without comment in 
my character of a mute witness of things Russian, un- 
rolling their Eastern logic under my Western eyes. But 
I permitted myself a question — 


" Tell me, please, Sophia Antonovna, did Madame de 
S leave all her fortune to Peter Ivanovitch ? " 

" Not a bit of it." The woman revolutionist 
shrugged her shoulders in disgust. " She died without 
making a will. A lot of nephews and nieces came 
down from St. Petersburg, like a flock of vultures, and 
fought for her money amongst themselves. All beastly 
Kammerherrs and Maids of Honour — abominable court 
flunkevs. Tfui ! " 

" One does not hear much of Peter Ivanovitch now," 
I remarked, after a pause. 

" Peter Ivanovitch," said Sophia Antonovna gravely, 
" has united himself to a peasant girl." 

I was truly astonished. 

" What ! On the Riviera ? " 

" What nonsense ! Of course not." 

Sophia Antonovna's tone was slightly tart. 

" Is he, then, living actually in Russia ? It's a 
tremendous risk — isn't it ? " I cried. " And all for the 
sake of a peasant girl. Don't you think it's very wrong 
of him ? " 

Sophia Antonovna preserved a mysterious silence for 
a while, then made a statement. 

" He just simply adores her." 

" Does he ? Well, then, I hope that she won't 
hesitate to beat him." 

Sophia Antonovna got up and wished me good-bye, 
as though she had not heard a word of my impious 
hope ; but, in the very doorway, where I attended her, 
she turned round for an instant, and declared in a firm 
voice — 

" Peter Ivanovitch is an inspired man." 

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